Today’s headlines often feature the word ‘cyber’, reporting on threats related to the virtual world: online child abuse, stolen credit cards and virtual identities, malware and viruses, botnets and denial-of-service attacks on corporate or government servers, cyber-espionage, and cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure including nuclear facilities and power supply networks.
What are the real cybersecurity challenges? What is the role of diplomacy, international legal instruments, and regional and national policies in addresses these threats, and how efficient are they? How does international cooperation in cybersecurity work, and what are the roles of the various stakeholders?
The 10-week advanced thematic course in Cybersecurity covers policy challenges, actors, and initiatives related to cybersecurity, and specifically to cybercrime, security of the core infrastructure, cyberwarfare and cyberterrorism, and Internet safety.
By the end of the course, participants should be able to:
Identify the defining features of cybersecurity, and the factors which shape the international issues.
Identify principal threats to cybersecurity; describe and analyse the key cybersecurity issues for users, and states.
Understand and analyse the Internet security issues for e-commerce including online banking and identity.
Explain the issues involved in cybercrime, its impact and investigation.
Understand the threats to the core Internet infrastructure.
Explain the concepts of cyberwarfare and cyberterrorism, and their role in international Internet policy.
Understand and assess the challenges involved in social aspects of cybersecurity.
Explain and analyse the international frameworks for cybersecurity policies and strategies.
The course forms part of the Thematic Phase of Diplo’s Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme (IGCBP). This phase offers in-depth courses that provide deeper understanding of a particular issue. Other courses forming part of this phase - which may run simultaneously or at a later date - include ICT Policy and Strategic Planning, E-participation, History of Internet Governance, Infrastructure and Critical Internet Resources, Intellectual Property Rights, and Privacy and Personal Data Protection.
Excerpt from course materials
‘...One side-effect of the rapid integration of the Internet in almost all aspects of human activity is the increased vulnerability of modern society. The Internet is part of the global critical infrastructure. Other core services of modern society, such as electric grids, transport systems, and health services are increasingly dependent on the Internet. As attacks on these systems may cause severe disruption and have huge financial consequences, they are frequent targets.’ (Lexture text 4.3)
The thematic course in Cybersecurity includes one week of hypertext practice and platform familiarisation and introduction, and eight in-depth course texts:
Chapter 1. Introduction to security discusses the historical development of cybersecurity, and distinguishes between the common, narrow, understanding of cybersecurity related to cyber-threats, and broader views which include information security and ‘friendly’ cyber conquest through technological standardisation dominance.
Chapter 2. Cybersecurity threats and building trust reviews common security threats to individuals, such as malware (including spyware, Trojans, viruses), phishing, e-scams and identity theft. To better understand the security-enabling infrastructure, the chapter explains the basics of the authentication and Public Key Infrastructure, including PIN codes and other identifiers, randomly generated passwords and e-signatures, and touches upon the challenge of identity and anonymity online. It concludes by looking at ways to build trust in e-commerce and e-services.
Chapter 3. Cybercrime attempts to define and classify cybercrime while reviewing the history of spam, viruses, intrusion, worms, Trojan horses, denial-of-service attacks and cyber-stalking, and also analyses its economic and social impacts. The chapter then focuses on combatting cybercrime: existing legal frameworks at the global and regional levels, jurisdiction challenges and various law enforcement approaches, computer investigation and e-forensics.
Chapter 4. Security of the core Internet infrastructure explains briefly how the critical components of the Internet work, and discusses the political dimension of global security - the (unilateral) control over the DNS - and technical vulnerabilities such as domain name hijacking, packet interception, DNS poisoning, and DNS spoofing. The chapter also explains the recent technological security upgrade titled DNSSec, and related technical and policy challenges. It then looks at the expected challenges of future networks: Internet of Things/Next Generation Networks and ‘smart networks’.
Chapter 5. Cyberterrorism and cyberwarfare looks at the security and protection of the critical infrastructure - the Internet infrastructure and also water supply facilities, transport, industrial facilities and power plants. It discusses cyberterrorism and possible counteracts, and analyses Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. It also discusses cyberwarfare, reviews the attempts to codify international law with regards to cyberwar, and refers to existing international initiatives and norms and their possible application in cyberspace (i.e. the Geneva Conventions).
Chapter 6. Internet safety: correlating privacy with security is our first task in this module, with special reflection on social media challenges. We attempt to define online safety, and scan through the challenges of the Web 2.0 era where users are the contributors and the Internet is ubiquitous. We then look at child safety, including cyber-bullying, abuse and sexual exploitation, and violent games, and discuss the ways to address these challenges through policy, education and technology.
Chapter 7. Social aspects of cybersecurity: touching upon openness and online freedoms, we look at some of the main issues faced when dealing with Internet safety, including objectionable and harmful content. We then analyse the reliability of information, and look at ethics, health and gender issues.
Chapter 8. Internet security policies and strategies: we dive deeply into the existing legal and policy frameworks. We start with the international framework, including the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, the ITU Global Security Agenda, the Commonwealth Cybercrime Initiative and the OSCE. We also look at regional policies and strategies including European Union, African Union and the Organisation of American States. We review business initiatives in the field of cybersecurity, including initiatives by Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, and SAFEcode, and discuss the importance and risks of public-private partnerships.
‘The course is updated with the latest security issues, so we have a global view of what is going on now, and what organisations are involved at international level in the fight against cybercriminality.’
‘... [the course lecturer] has been very encouraging to think on even the different side which may not be very popular side. So both pros and cons of the issues come to light in the class, encouraging deeper learning.’