TechRepublic's Dan Patterson spoke with Neil Walsh, Head of Cybercrime, Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism Department for the United Nations, about the impact and influence that the UN has on technology and cybersecurity.
Patterson: So, keyword, consent there, in that you work with other actors (whether they're NGOs or state actors) on issues that regardless of partisan divide, you are able to say, "Well horrific things happen on the dark web. Even stolen data and exfiltrated data ends up on the dark web, and we can all have the consensus that we need to encourage law enforcement to track these." Correct?
Walsh: That's exactly that. We have a number of groups that come together in Vienna. We're a consensus based part of the UN. We don't vote, so governments have to come together and nothing is agreed until everyone has agreed on a point. Now you can imagine, that's really difficult sometimes.
Patterson: When I think about the UN, that's what I think about.
Walsh: Yeah. Our role really is to bring that real life, that real subject matter expertise, knowledge, and relevance to it. The Secretary General made it exceptionally clear, we have to be relevant. If we're simply talking about an issue that if the public see and think about, we're probably not discussing the issues that matter. When we discuss cyber within the UN, we are talking about these issues.
Sometimes you do get discussions where the relevance of applying that to real life is more difficult to see, but the consensus issue that every country, we're talking the US, Russia, China, South Africa, UK, wherever, agree on is the need to build capacity for policing, for criminal justice actors, for judges to counter this threat.
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Because while there might not be an international definition of cyber crime, or an international definition of terrorism, countries recognize that the ability for policing to respond to that is vital. So, we do that. We do the education approach because when we speak to kids, you get victims who self-report.
If we've got that criminal justice infrastructure in place, then you can do something that really matters. In the past year alone, from the capacity building, the training that we've done with companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, countries, like for example in Guatemala, identified an exceptionally high risk pedophile operating in their community. Over 50 kids had been raped in the community, over 35 more in four different countries who were being live stream abused online. By doing that, you have a real impact on society.
But not only that across government, governments then recognize the threat and they start working together. They talk to each other. They realize we're all facing the same threat. Cyber threat, as you know Dan, it doesn't recognize borders. It doesn't recognize culture or language, so we have to work together to do something about it.
Dan Patterson has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Dan is a Senior Writer for TechRepublic. He covers cybersecurity and the intersection of technology, politics and government.