New York. Indonesia, the current president of the UN Security Council, organized an informal meeting on Wednesday to address growing threat on critical public infrastructure posed by cyber attacks.
Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani presided the video-teleconference on Cyber-Attacks against Critical Infrastructure amid “an array of threats and vulnerabilities” facing many countries due to ever-increasing global cyber connectivity.
In many countries, critical infrastructure -- such as medical, electrical, water, transport and other systems that constitute the backbone of society -- are run by digital systems which rely on information and communication technology (ICT).
While this digitalization of societies and critical infrastructure brings invaluable benefits, it also poses risks. Recent years have shown that malicious actors are targeting a range of critical infrastructure. The vulnerability of critical infrastructure is even greater as it is more highly connected and digitally dependent, and failure in one infrastructure can result in the breakdown of others.
“Indonesia is therefore of the view that protection of critical infrastructure against cyber-attacks will become even more important in the future,” Djani told the conference.
He told Council members that they need to acknowledge widespread consequences of cyber-attacks on civilian infrastructure which could trigger a humanitarian crisis. The concerted global effort to tackle the issue should also include “non-state actors”.
“Cyber-attacks also pose risks towards instability in international peace and security with consequences becoming uncontrollable, even potentially claiming human lives,” Djani said.
Cyber-attacks can kill people if, for example, they are directed at civil aviation sector.
The harms on human became especially apparent during the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, when health-care facilities in several countries were targeted by malicious cyber operations.
Djani said member states need to adopt new national legislations and a stronger international law governing cyber attacks in future conflicts so that they don’t target civilian infrastructure, according to the Council president.
“Indonesia supports the norms of responsible state behavior outlined in the UN General Assembly Resolution 70/237. There must not be any intentional damage or impairment in the use and operation of critical infrastructure,” Bernad Satriani said, a cyber security consultant.
“There is also a need to widen understanding and deepen engagement among countries and regions, including addressing divergent views on some of the major concepts in international law that apply in cyberspace,” he added.
However, since there is no universal concept of critical infrastructure, its definition lies in domestic domain, he said.
Indonesia encourages global efforts in reinforcing common understanding on cyber security issues, while capacity and confidence building measures are required to bolster stability of cyberspace, he said.
The briefers in the so-called “Arria-formula meeting” included Peter Maurer, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Ramesh Rajasingham, Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs; and Renata Dwan, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).
An Arria-formula meeting is an unofficial meeting on any issue regarded as critically important by some of Security Council members, who just don’t have enough time to reach a consensus for a formal session.
Its name came from Venezuelan Ambassador Diego Arria, who initiated this informal meeting format during his presidency of the Council in 1992.