Clear Rules Needed to Prevent Conflict and Struggle in Cyber Space, Says NCSC Chief

A clear definition and enforcement of the international rules that govern activity in cyberspace is required to create a safe and secure digital world, according to National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) chief executive Lindy Cameron during a speech at Cyber Week hosted by Tel Aviv University.

Cameron argued that to ensure the digital world remains a place of opportunity and prevent it from becoming a place of conflict and struggle, “we must be clearer about the guidelines and norms that transcend international borders.” This includes utilizing innovative new technologies and greater cooperation between countries.

She acknowledged that “cyber capabilities” are becoming increasingly sophisticated. However, it is crucial to produce and use these tools “in a way that is legal, responsible and proportionate.”

Reining in irresponsible cyber behaviors requires clarity on how and when such capabilities can be used. Cameron pointed to Israel’s move to tighten export controls around these tools, which is “making it far more difficult for nations with concerning records on privacy and human rights to acquire such intrusive spyware.”

She added: “It is really important that every actor, from the developer to the end-user of these types of technology and capabilities acts responsibly, with appropriate safeguards to protect against misuse.”

Cameron also used her speech to praise the “incredible job” of Ukrainian cyber defenders in repelling relentless cyber-attacks from Russia during the ongoing war in the region. “Russia has consistently used cyber pressure to stress its rivals, distract them and, where possible, disable them,” she outlined. “But – just as they have on the battlefield – the Ukrainian cyber defenders have done an incredible job of repelling many of these attacks. They are real heroes. Resilience and preparation are at the heart of this success.”

However, the biggest long-term strategic challenge is still from China, said Cameron. “The Chinese government’s use of technology is about coercion and control. The country’s technological and economic power means they can export this vision very widely.”

Therefore, like-minded liberal nations must work together “to develop technologies and systems which allow us to avoid reliance on products not aligned with our values.”

As well as the threats by nation-state actors, Cameron reiterated previous statements about the growing threat of ransomware from cyber-criminal gangs. She noted that the continuous evolution of this vector alongside the growth of ransomware-as-a-service makes it a significant threat to society. “So, we worked hard over the last year to really understand, with our law enforcement partners, the criminal system behind ransomware. We want to drive down profits and drive up the risk to the criminals. We continue to work on understanding the scale, nature and evolution of their techniques,” she commented.

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