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Oxford Martin Commission calls for CyberEx, a Global Early Warning System for Cyber Security

A commission chaired by Pascal Lamy, the former Director General of the World Trade Organisation and comprising of high profile participants like Ariana Huffington and Nandan Nilekani has called for a global early warning platform for cyber security called CyberEx.

Too many decisions regarding cyber security rely on an inadequate evidence base, due to inconsistent data and deficient reporting, along with fragmented and inconsistent cyber rules across different networks and systems. To respond, the Commission recommends the establishment of an early warning platform for the shared benefit of government, corporate and individual interests.

The Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations, proposed that the initiative could be built on existing national cyber response systems and also help provide support in developing countries where cyber infrastructure is weakest.

Cyber Security

Essentially, we are talking of a super agency which will facilitate information exchange on cyber security between governments, corporates and individuals. This is probably the worst time to come up with a suggestion like this when there is widespread sentiment against government cyber surviellance programs is raging in different parts of the world.

According to the Commission, this is what CyberEx should do:

  • CyberEx could be an independent exchange, funded by participating stakeholders. It could work to develop complete, consistent and comparable metrics of common threats, enabling a more transparent and deeper understanding to inform better policies over the longer term.
  • The platform could share information on global cyber system weaknesses, suspicious internet traffic and malicious software, whilst also helping countries and businesses identify and implement minimal technical and policy standards of cybersecurity.
  • It could seek to minimize common vulnerabilities that enable the theft of sensitive information and the distribution of spam through systems, and work closely with international and domestic agencies to prevent common system attacks. The platform could also provide a useful mechanism for stakeholders to agree responses to collective concerns, such as privacy protection.
  • By providing an accessible, open platform for information exchange, CyberEx could help governments, businesses and individuals to understand common threat patterns better, identify preventative measures, and minimize future attacks. Multi-stakeholder governance and transparency will be critical to ensure CyberEx is a trusted platform.

The commission also recommended measures to create coalitions for climate control, fit cities, open politics, better statistics, transparent taxation, invest in people and focus business on the long term. The full report can be found here (pdf).

Nilekani, the Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India, who was the only Indian on the commission, wrote in a financial daily this morning that the report identifies megatrends that have huge implications for us.

“We are already witnessing the power of technology in access…we must deepen these forms of tech infrastructure (referring to Aadhaar) by giving people the tools to respond to government services, educate themselves on issues, give feedback, question and engage,” wrote Nilekani.

The commission also expressed concern that political life today is being distracted by 24/7 media pressures, election timetables and the “urgency of now,” preventing long term political vision from taking shape.

Arianna Huffington highlighted tools like smart phones, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and, more broadly, the Internet is dramatically changing how media is produced, consumed and reported. “Such immediacy calls for immediate responses, as governments are increasingly put on the spot by journalists, and are expected to provide commentary with limited time for appropriate reflection, clarification and analysis of the facts,” the report said.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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