Table of Contents
- Overview of Cyber Security Issues
- Influence of Culture on Cyber Activities
- Role and Effectiveness of International Organizations in Implementing Policies
- Attitude towards Cyber Security in Middle East and Africa
Cyber warfare has become an issue of concern after a shift in paradigm when it comes to war activities. the threat of the attacks through the cyberspace had been predicted by many scholars because they had noticed how access to information in the cyber space was being misused. For example, the Iranian nuclear program has been targeted the aim of destroying the nuclear infrastructure and some of the cyber-attacks were successful because some information was leaked through the renown WikiLeaks.
As a result of such issues, many countries and institutions have noted that syber security needs to be a priority beause it enhances stability oif their systems. This research paper will explore the extent of global security when it comes to cyber and the factors that influence cyber security. The research will put emphasis on cultural factors that determine the attitude of countries towards cyber security.
The research will also examine the roles of international organizations such as NATO when it comes to implementing cyber security policies. It will provide a global outlook focused on the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. After the analysis of the state of cyber security, the research will recommend the various measures that should be taken to ensure that cyber warfare is reduced and eventually, eliminated.
Overview of Cyber Security Issues
According to some researchers, cyber warfare does not really take place. Instead of the war, the attacks will resemble the old ways of warfare that includes espionage and sabotage. It worth noting that the original purpose of the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT) was not to forge violent attacks for political benefits of some entities or countries (Baranetsky, 2009). However, it is discouraging to cite that ICT has been recently used as a tool to gain political advantage and benefits.
For example, there is proof that China has involved itself in cyber espionage activities against the United States for a long time with the aim of circumventing the superiority of America in the seas. The actions of China started long time ago because before the start of the millennium, the United States accused China of trying to infiltrate its nuclear facilities (Symantec, 2010).
Moreover, the Chinese Government has openly disclosed of its pride in dominating cyber activities and it recently made it public that it is on the verge of establishing a cyber-army. Therefore, countries such as China and Russia consider cyber security as a way of politically establishing themselves on the face of the world and the activities of such nations show how ICT has been manipulated for the political benefits of the countries.
The origin of Internet can be traced back in during the cold war as it was created as a military application. The initial attack took place during the cold war when the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) attacked the systems of the Soviet Union through a malware (Alperovitch & Mularski, 2009). Since then, there has been increased use of Internet in both beneficial and harmful ways. Political motives have overshadowed the benefits of the Internet and as a result, many organizations are forced to invest heavily I terms of their cyber security.
There are many instances that show that organizations and governments are no longer safe even with s strong military base. For example, the recent Russian Georgian War 2008 was used to cripple the systems of the Georgian Government so that Russia could easily invade the country by the use of sea, air, and land (Alperovitch & Mularski, 2009). Such attacks prove that the physical infrastructure can be easily targeted and damaged through cyber means.
Moreover, there is possibility of an upcoming war through cyber means if the previous attacks are not addressed. It is evident that a cyber-attack can result in physical destruction of important infrastructure, and even cause death and physical harm. Such results make the attacks rise to the category of a war. Many countries have been seen to prepare their defensive mechanism by strengthening their systems and also linking their systems to warfare tools such as the nuclear facilities (Fossi et al, 2011). The current world has come to rely on ICT to provide significant amenities such as water, gas, and electricity.
Therefore, any manipulation of such systems would directly affect the lives of everyone. The Internet gradually took over all aspects of peoples lives be it political, economic, or social. Due to the fast rising usage of ICT, many governments have not put into consideration the possible risks associated with the cyber development (Carr & Shepherd, 2010). Although warfare is still held through the traditional means such as sea, land, and air, it is a matter of time before cyber warfare is fully operational.
The statistical increase of the number of global cyber attacks also proves that the issue of cyber security is becoming a worrying trend. A research that was conducted by Norton in 2011 proved of the prevalence of the cyber risks. The research showed that around 431 million people have been victims of various types of cyber-attacks. The study shows that there are at least 14 victims such attacks in every second, meaning that in a day, the number of victims amount to around one million. The value of cyber-crimes is currently estimated as above one trillion dollars annually through activities such as the theft of identity and intellectual property (Carr & Shepherd, 2010).
Recently, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held a summit that was jointly convened by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The event had representations from different member states, multinational organizations, and private citizens. The event recognized that cyber security is an important aspect similarly to military defense, and it has to be taken seriously (Carr & Shepherd, 2010).
The members concluded that cyber security threats can be attributed to nations that do not follow the basic ethical standards, which includes respect for privacy. The members in the meeting also came to an agreement that there are various methods that can be applied to reduce the associated risks to cyber security.
As shown by the above incidences, cyber security also means national security in the current society. The nature of the current society is that every country wants to find itself in a more advantageous position compared to another country. As a result, many countries are investing in military equipment to enhance their defense (Baranetsky, 2009). However, despite the emphasis on enriching the military equipment, a possible shift in the way in which warfare is conducted has made cyber security a priority for many countries.
Recent attacks have led to many governments such as the United States revising their policies towards cyber security to ensure that the policies conform to their defensive ambition. It is evident that some countries such as Russia and China have become aware of the importance of cyber security and other superpowers such as the United Kingdom have taken the responsive measures (Alperovitch & Mularski, 2009).
The war against cybercrimes also determines the future of the humanity because almost every aspect of our lives is connected to ICT. Thus, the topic of cyber security has reached its optimum, and it is a high time that countries acted to ensure that strong systems are in place to ensure that the malicious intentions of cyber attackers are not reached.
Influence of Culture on Cyber Activities
Different countries have different rules and regulations, meaning that an issue can be illegal in one country, and at the same time legal in another country. For example, in the United States, Marijuana is legal in some areas even when being illegal in others. In effect, the European and Middle East legal systems are different in what they term as legal and illegal (Carr & Shepherd, 2010).
The variations in the laws are brought about by the variances in religion and cultural systems. Religion can also dictate the type of laws available, an example being the Islamic states having the sharia law. In other cases, the western legal systems also varies on the penalties that accrue to the offenders of the law.
For example, it is not common to find a European nation punishing someone through a death penalty. Therefore, morality and legality are not concepts that are universal (Fossi et al, 2011). Instead, the two concepts are customized to fit the culture, religious beliefs, geographical location, and the ethnic groups of the makers of laws. Therefore, it is evident that cultural practices significantly influence various laws including the cyber policies and governance.
Currently, there exists no universal government that determines and controls Internet activities. Therefore, countries can easily manipulate the Internet to achieve their objectives. Although organizations such as the European Union and United Nations exist to govern issues of international domains, the organizations do not have the required legitimacy to have its desired effects (Carr & Shepherd, 2010). The international bodies have not been effective as they would have wished because they are not endowed with the required legal and moral authority. Therefore, it always difficult to standardize various legal consequences related to the Internet use.
The Internet is regarded as the main toll that connects the whole world due to the enhancement of intercommunication. However, despite the Internet being a global tool, the difference in the cultural values of our diverse cultures has led to different countries and regions adopting different approaches towards cyber affairs. For example, many countries differ in terms of aspects of Internet usage such as pornography and the utilization of freedom of speech (Carr & Shepherd, 2010).
Similarly, the same case applies to cyber security. Some of the scholars say that there have been a lot of challenges to many governments in their bid to ensure that there are secure from cyber-attacks. The challenges come due to the vulnerability of intellectual property and how some governments support various cybercrimes (Fossi et al, 2011). For example, China has been known to encourage cyber-attacks as part of its efforts in engaging in research in order to develop a national security model.
As shown above, every country has the freedom of using the Internet at its own benefit. As a result, the only determine factor of cyber behavior is the cultural practices of a particular group of people. Many countries in Europe and Asia have recently taken advantage of the freedom to use cyber-attacks for their own benefits (Carr & Shepherd, 2010). For example, Russia waged war with Georgia in 2008, and the country first disabled the systems of the Georgian Government, so that it can easily penetrate the country without resistance.
In the current society, everything that is done through Internet can be easily monitored by government institutions. Many governments including the United States Government are adopting spying programs on citizens, organizations, and other countries (Carr & Shepherd, 2010). Many scholars predict that soon, all citizens will be required by their government to sacrifice their privacy rights for the purpose of enhancing their own security.
As a result, every step, move, or action made through the Internet will be easily monitored by the government. Such activities by the governments prove that the Internet platform has become more open, meaning that there has been an increase in the level of vulnerability (Fossi et al, 2011). Due to the fact of being more open, the security of such systems has become a matter of great concern for every institution that uses the Internet platform
Cyber security issues have led to the development of a database system in which various agencies can easily share information with regard to the matter. The developed countries governments have been making efforts to ensure that cyber security is enhanced in all fronts. However, many cite that the efforts have not been fruitful due to the rampant increase in cyber related crimes (Carr & Shepherd, 2010). Such crimes have been costing many economies significant amounts of resources. For example, despite the United States Government allocating $154 million for the purpose of protecting the cyber space, the main focus of the government has been the online espionage, thus leaving the crimes committed in the World Wide Web unattended (FBI, 2014).
A study done by Norton in the year 2011 showed that the risks involved in the cyber activities have shot up drastically and around 431 million people have been victims of various types of cyber-attacks. The study shows that there are at least 14 victims such attacks in every second, meaning that in a day, the number of victims amount to around one million. The value of cyber-crimes is currently estimated as above one trillion dollars annually through activities such as the theft of identity and intellectual property (FBI, 2014).
Recently, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held a summit that was jointly convened by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The event had representations from different member states, multinational organizations, and private citizens. The event recognized that cyber security is an important aspect just as military defense and it needs to be taken seriously (Carr & Shepherd, 2010). The members in the meeting also came to an agreement that there are various methods that can be applied to reduce the associated risks to cyber security.
Some of the issues raised by the attendants as the sources of the increased cyber insecurity was the economic disparities in different economies and the reality that the developing countries do not have the required resources to combat cyber-crimes. The attendants also acknowledged the fact that there has been little cooperation between the developing nations and those that are developing in the course to enhance cyber security (Carr & Shepherd, 2010).
As a result, cyber criminals manipulate the disunity in these nations to spot loopholes in various relevant laws, leading to increase in the crimes. The resolution of the meeting was that all nations need to cooperate and enact strict laws against cyber-crimes to ensure the current legal loopholes are sealed. Therefore, cyber security in the current society has been acknowledged as a global challenge and all countries need to accept the reality in order to adopt the necessary measures to enhance cyber security (Fossi et al, 2011).
Cyber security has become a necessity, just like the defense forces, meaning that the necessary resources and expertise need to be committed to ensuring that security in the cyberspace is enhanced.
The same case applies to China that have been known to attack Tibet through cyber warfare due to Tibets insistence on autonomy. Therefore, people growing in such areas where cyber-attacks are supported and encouraged by their own administration are likely to take matters in their own hands and engage in cyber-crimes (Carr & Shepherd, 2010). Statistics show that China has among the most hackers in the world. The hacking activities in the country are done by individuals and organizations.
The Chinese culture of devising attacks have been transmitted to the new generations to the extent that the Internet attacks have become a norm in the society. China has a strong emphasis on ensuring that its networks are secure to ensure that imminent attacks on its systems are not successful (Fossi et al, 2011). As a result, the Chinese people and organization strongly emphasize on ensuring that their networks are secure and stable. The countries, in addition to Europe, have put in strong mechanisms to ensure that their systems are secure.
Countries such as the United States have also participated in hacking activities for the purpose of gaining crucial information. For example, information posted in WikiLeaks confirmed that the United States was involved in various spying activities across the globe especially on countries considered as threats (Fossi et al, 2011). For example, the United States was under the accusations of tapping the communications of the German Chancellor.
Therefore, the culture of the western powers and the Asian region are structured in a way that most of the countries have taken a lot of emphasis on ensuring that their systems are immune from cyber-attacks. Furthermore, the countries have adopted a culture of offensive tactics in which they attack other systems in order to gain an advantage. The emphasis of cyber security in these countries is made on the improvement of technology and adoption of ICT as part of their lives.
When it comes to other parts of the world such as Africa and some parts of Asia, the aspect of cyber security has not been emphasized as it should be. The main reason is that most of the countries in these regions have not fully adopted ICT and most of their systems are manual. As a result, people are accustomed to performing things manually and the cultural practice means that many governments do not have to worry about having cyber security (Carr & Shepherd, 2010).
Therefore, lack of many cases of cyber-attacks of these regions in Africa is due to the fact that most of the practices done are manual. Therefore, as it can be seen, cyber security is influenced greatly by the cultural practices and preferences of many countries. Countries that have adopted ICT as their way of life are likely to put emphasis on putting up measures to protect themselves from cyber-attacks (Fossi et al, 2011).
On the other hand, countries that have adopted ICT fully are not likely to emphasize on measures of cyber security. However, it is worth noting that the countries that have not adopted ICT fully are in the process of adopting it, and soon, cyber security will be among their priority issues.
Role and Effectiveness of International Organizations in Implementing Policies
According to The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) there are more than 35 nations that have the capability of conducting offensive cyber-attacks. The organization continues to state that countries are shifting to the new type of war, and it has become a matter of concern. The concern by NATO is similar to that cite by the United Nations (Fossi et al., 2011).
In most cases, the purpose of the formation of such organizations was to create global harmony and cooperation. The organizations ought to have created harmony by restricting activities such as the use of cyber-attacks for political or any other type of benefit. However, considering the current trend and the activities of the above international organizations, it is evident that the organizations have not been effective.
The adoption of ICT was a welcome development in the society until some countries started using its technology as a military weapon. NATO and the United Nations acknowledge that most of the current crimes contain an element of cyber involvement (Masters, 2010). The two organizations have come up with rules that govern cyber security but they have not been effective enough due to various challenges.
The first challenge facing the organizations is the lack of sound international laws that govern cyber operations. For example, the Article 5 of NATO laws has been cited as having a lot of ambiguity. The article describes cyber-attacks and the extent to which the article can be invoked (Fossi et al., 2011).
The article currently cites that it can be invoked if an attack has physical damage and mass casualties. The wording of the article is ambiguous because it does not further define what mass casualties mean. Due to ambiguity, the laws could not be applied in real life situations such as the Georgia attack (Masters, 2010). Ambiguity in the laws of the organizations has led to many countries manipulating cyber affairs to their own advantage.
The next challenge facing the organizations is the non-cooperation attitude portrayed by the member states. Most of the countries that signed up to various international treaties have been seen breaching the policies and no action have been taken against them (Carr & Shepherd, 2010). Many superpowers and influential countries such as Russia, the United States, and China have taken different stands on cyber warfare. Russia and China are known to be offensive when it comes to hacking and the Chinese government has publicly encouraged hacking activities (Alperovitch & Mularski, 2009).
The United States has been seen to oppose the steps taken by the Russian and Chinese Governments and lack of cooperation means that formulation of international laws on cyber security cannot be reached.
Lastly, the organization face the challenge of not having the authority, legal or moral, to act pose sanctions and injunctions on countries that offend cyber laws. Thus, the organization end up being powerless to confront the nations that go against the already established international standards (Fossi et al, 2011). Most of the countries have been concentrating on development of their own cyber security system, meaning that the prospect of international cooperation is not their priority.
As a result, the international bodies have been left powerless because the member nations do not want to afford power to them (Masters, 2010). In effect, NATO and the United Nations end up being silent observers as cybercrimes continue to rise (Carr & Shepherd, 2010). The recent report by NATO cited the same problem because it stated that lack of international cooperation from member nations has greatly alienated the organizations from playing a role in the cyber security domain.
As a result of the above challenges, it has become difficult for the international organizations top govern cyber activities across the globe. Many countries seem to operate in a cold war manner, meaning that the international organizations are left in the dark. The lack of having similar opinion in major players in the sector also plays a major role in crippling the authority of these organizations because they are left in a dilemma on their next cause of action (Fossi et al., 2011). Such actions have led to many citing the organizations as pets of the superpowers because they do not go against their policies.
Therefore, the organizations have not been effective in standardizing cyber security and the associated issues (Masters, 2010). The organizations have not also been able to formulate the necessary laws that would ensure that there are safe cyber activities. Until all the countries unite and acknowledge that cyber security issues are getting out of control, the international bodies will not have the authority to control the domain. Lack of authority means that the organizations will not be effective in their role.
Attitude towards Cyber Security in Middle East and Africa
As cited above, Middle East and African countries are either developing or they have not fully adopted ICT. Most African nations are still under developed. In Middle East, most of the countries economies have been driven by other economic activities such as oil instead of ICT (Fossi et al, 2011). As a result, both regions have not emphasized a lot on ensuring that their systems are secure. In terms of automation of their systems, both regions lag behind compared to the western countries.
Lack of emphasis on cyber security in the two regions have been cause by different reasons. In Middle East, countries such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have vast oil resources that have made the economies grow at a fast rate (Masters, 2010). Therefore, most of the nations in Middle East are endowed with the necessary resources required to invest in ICT. Despite having all the resources, the cultural practices and religions of these countries inhibit them from fully adopting ICT.
Most of the countries in the region are opposed to westernization, meaning that they have adopted a strategy of not following the path of the technology advancement by the west (Carr & Shepherd, 2010). Therefore, the countries have turned a blind eye of ICT development, and in effect, they have also disregarded the aspect and the importance of having cyber security.
On the other side of Africa, most of the countries were colonized by the European nations, meaning that they are more open to westernization compare to the countries in the Middle East. However, the countries lack the necessary resources to invest in ICT for them to be at par with the developed western countries (Masters, 2010).
Therefore, the main reason of the African countries not adopting cyber security mechanisms is lack of the required resources and technology to install the systems (Wanjiku, 2012). However, countries such as South Africa have taken significant steps in development. Soon, the country will realize the threat posed if it does adopt proper cyber security measures.
It is obvious that different global regions have adopted different approaches towards cyber security. The main reason for the difference in the approach is the diversity of cultures in the regions, which leads to the development of a particular attitude towards cyber security (Symantec, 2010). The different attitudes have led to some of the countries prioritizing on cyber security, while others do not make it a priority.
In order for cyber security to be enhanced globally, there needs to be a mechanisms that aims at reducing the associated threats. The prevention of cyber-crimes starts with individual states and organizations (Carr & Shepherd, 2010). According to the trends in the current society, it seems ironic to see governments spending a significant proportion of their budgets to strengthen their public defenses and infrastructure to an extent of forgetting that the real threat lies in the cyber sector.
The efforts being made by the governments are not enough to guarantee the required cyber security measures to protect the native citizens and organizations (UMUC, 2012). Therefore, the first recommendation is that individual countries need to take initiatives to allocate more funds in order to enhance cyber security on their domains.
Secondly, the world superpowers such as the United States, Russia, and China need to take a common stand against cyber terrorism. The various attacks that have been experienced recently prove that there is a possibility of a cold war related to cyber between the superpowers. Lack of unity among these superpowers has proven to be a bad example to the upcoming ICT states, and due to the bad example set, the upcoming states are likely to initiate their own disagreements (UMUC, 2012).
Therefore, the leading countries need to take initiative and a leadership position to enhance cyber security and fight cyber related crimes. Such unity would lead to the necessary steps being taken such as the development of an international accord that helps to prevent imminent cyber wars (Carr & Shepherd, 2010). As a result of such an accord, it would become easy for the international organizations such as NATO and the United Nations to exert the appropriate punishment to the offenders of the cyber laws.
Thirdly, the international bodies such as NATO, and the United Nations need to be given the necessary moral and legal authority to regulate and standardize the cyber security issues. Currently, the organizations have not been effective mainly due to lack of the necessary authority to act (UMUC, 2012).
Most of the developed countries have not yet agreed on the mandate the organizations should have and as a result, the organizations remain dormant in the area. Unity among all the countries would be the first step in giving the international bodies the necessary authority. If all countries are united, it would be easy for them to adopt rules that give the international authorities the mandate to act on the offenders of the cyber-crimes (Carr & Shepherd, 2010).
The unity of these countries would also lead to the adoption of rules that are specific to replace the current ambiguous rules. The adoption of such rules would improve the international bodies awareness of the measures required in case of a cyber-crime activity.
The other recommendation is that world leaders such as the United States needs to put up a cyber-security summit. The summit can be conducted regularly with annual meetings appropriate. Such summits would provide a platform of various countries to air their issues and strategies that could be adopted to promote cyber security (Fossi et al, 2011).
The summit would also enhance international cooperation among all the countries and the cooperation would lead to the adoption and verification of models that would be able to identify the sources of the cyber-crimes (Carr & Shepherd, 2010). With the help of the identification of the sources of such crimes, it will be possible for the nations to take full responsibility for such situations.
Lastly, regions such as the Middle East need to be enlightened on the reality that cyber security is vital to the existence and sustenance of their infrastructure. Countries in the Middle East possess the necessary infrastructure but they have turned a blind eye on cyber security. It would be the role of the international bodies, especially the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to enlighten these countries in the region to adopt take cyber security as a serious issue (Carr & Shepherd, 2010).
Although African countries have not developed ICT infrastructure similarly to the developed countries yet, the they should be enlightened on the importance of adopting a culture that would enhance cyber security (Wanjiku, 2012). The countries should realize that the key to the stability of their current systems is serious attitude to cyber security because it will result in the protection of their infrastructure.
If the above-mentioned recommendations are implemented, then there would be harmony in the world, and international organizations would have the necessary authority to ensure that cyber security is adopted. Regions such as Middle East and Africa would also be able to adopt cyber security mechanisms and as a result, cyber-crimes would be eliminated (Fossi et al, 2011). Therefore, maintenance of cyber security is the responsibility of every country and organizations because the manipulation of the cyber systems directly affect the same countries and organizations.
As shown in this research paper, cyber security is critical in enhancing every nations security. The main threat of cyber security is the consistent new methods that are being adopted by hackers, making them acquire new techniques of breaching the cyber security. Another factor that has been threatening cyber security is the fact that the world is not united when it comes to fighting cyber-crimes.
Most of the developed countries including China and the United States have taken different stands when it comes to policies concerning cyber security, making it difficult to have a single stand. Moreover, regional cultural practices have also significantly participated in hindering the adoption of a common policy that would enhance global cyber security. Most of the African countries and other developing countries across the globe do not boast of resources that can fight cyber security, meaning that the countries can be easy targets.
Countries in the Middle East have not been taking the issue of cyber security seriously because their economies do not rely heavily on ICT. Such cultural differences have proven to be the stumbling block in the effort to enhance global cyber security. The problems escalates because international institutions that are supposed to monitor the global welfare for all such as NATO do not have the power to sanction cyber security offenders.
One of the actions that need to be taken is the adoption of a common stand towards cyber securities by all nations, and this would be enhanced by having unity among all nations. Another significant step is giving authority to the international bodies and enlightening countries in the Middle East and Africa to take the concept of cyber security seriously. If a united stand is not taken towards cyber security, then the associated threats would drastically reduce.