US, UK, and Democratic Nations Unite to Combat Cyber-Threats to Civil Society

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Security agencies from the US and UK last week convened a meeting off democratic nations designed to find new ways of combatting mounting threats to civil society.

The first Strategic Dialogue on the Cyber Security of Civil Society Under Threat of Transnational Repression was chaired by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Other attendees included representatives from Australia, Canada, Estonia, France, Japan, New Zealand and Norway.

The dialog was set up by CISA as part of its High-Risk Community Protection initiative, and offered participants an opportunity to brief others on their efforts to protect civil society groups and provide insight into the threat landscape.

Read more on civil society threats: US Government Ordered to Urgently Patch Apple Zero-Day Bugs.

In this context, “civil society” could include MPs, journalists, academics, lawyers, dissidents and individuals sanctioned by foreign states.

NCSC CEO, Lindy Cameron, said the dialog was critical to defending democracy and improving collective cyber resilience.

“Protecting civil society from cyber threats is vital so it can continue its important work upholding our democratic values in the UK and around the world,” she added.

“The NCSC with CISA and international partners have reaffirmed our commitment to support at-risk communities to bolster their cyber security in the face of a heightened threat of transnational repression.”

UK security minister, Tom Tugendhat, explained that foreign powers have become increasingly emboldened over recent years in their efforts to “intimidate, harass and harm” communities in the UK.

“An increasingly connected online world grants them new opportunities to intimidate journalists and dissidents who are resident beyond their borders,” he said.

“This dialog brings together the best minds in cyber to discuss how we can strengthen the online security of at-risk communities – which is vital to maintaining the free speech and scrutiny that repressive regimes so clearly fear.”

Over recent weeks, Apple has been forced to patch several zero-day vulnerabilities used to covertly install spyware on the devices of civil society activists.

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