Mona Al-achkar Jabbour
Pan Arab Observatory for Safety and Cyber Security

Cyber space is the domain generated from the interconnection between computers and telecommunication networks in order to store, modify, and exchange data via networked systems and associated physical infrastructures without regard to physical geography. Therefore, its security largely depends on the data and the ICTs’ security.

Actually, because of cyber space’s great dependence on informatics and telecommunications for almost every activity and service, it’s extremely dangerous to ignore the growing phenomenon of cyber crimes and the increasing number of threats to citizen lives, citizen activities, and governmental systems.

Sources of cyber threats may be unintentional accidents, or due to vulnerabilities and negligence. However, they can also be intentional, like direct attacks on systems. Objectives of systems attackers can be to shut them down, to gain access to such systems and steal crucial data, to make illegal financial transfers, to disrupt records, or to manipulate data and code in order to introduce harmful instructions. Attackers can be recreational hackers, crackers or terrorists. This is can happen for business entities and interests, as well as for the public sector and the government.

Banking institutions, energy, state agencies, hospitals, business, education, and even social affairs heavily rely on their online presence.

With information flowing through boundaries of different legal systems  connected to different   networks around the globe, there is a growing need to protect personal information, funds and assets, as well as national security.

Thus, cyber security issues are gaining interest by both the public as well as the private sectors.

Background

Cyber security is about building confidence and security in the use of ICTs so as to ensure trust by the information society. Consequently, we can define it as all activities and operations aiming at the reduction and prevention of threat and vulnerabilities, and having in place policies for protection; incident response; recovery, data assurance, law enforcement, and military and intelligence operations relating to cyber space security.

Thus cyber security  touches practically all activities and all citizens around the globe; it provides tremendous opportunities for enhancing human development as well as  achieving better integration in the information society. It also supports wider access to knowledge and education, as well as to the development of policies and strategies.

Moreover, it imposes new types of commercial, professional and social paradigms, giving rise to a number of legal and technical problems that must be addressed on the basis of respecting its special nature and needs. Hence, a different approach and different methodologies than what has been adopted before the age of information and communication technology are needed.

Nevertheless, many governments and societies fear the negative impact ICTs can have on their own citizens because of the potential dangers it carries, and because of the economic, social, and security challenges it poses.

Accordingly, lack of security in cyber space undermines confidence in the information society. This is especially the case with many intrusions around the globe resulting in the stealing of money, assets, and sensitive military, commercial and economic information.

In legal and regulatory institutions that lack cyber space security undermines the realization of  the full potential of the information technology revolution.

Consequently, special attention is needed to prevent cyberspace from turning into a source of danger for states and citizens, and to prevent the appearance of a cyber crime  haven.

The authorities in charge are trying to find a way to prevent and punish new forms of criminal activity such as ICT crimes involving   computer-based assaults. Many governments have already adopted particular regulations and legislations as an answer to the need of ensuring the adoption of security measures.

Cooperation between countries

In the same context, scholars, experts and policy makers are highlighting the importance of cooperation between nations and governments to answer challenges imposed by cyberspace’s particular nature and to achieve cyber security. As a matter of fact, without cooperation between nations and countries, it is doubtful that any country can protect itself.

In many Arab countries where there is a shortage of legislation and regulatory texts, responsibilities for cyber security are not defined or well established across the departments and the authorities in charge of law enforcement. This situation certainly   hinders dealing with cyber crime issues in a consistent way.

Hence, the Arab world is not yet organized enough to address the growing threat of cyber crime and organized crime intrusions, let alone state-sponsored attacks and operations or organized crime networks.

The Arab world must be serious about addressing cyber security challenges with strong leadership and vision. Leadership should be lifted up and strongly anchored within competent official authorities capable of coordinating action and of achieving results. And while providing policy, strategy, legal structures, and coordination to empower concerned authorities to perform their missions, special attention should be paid to strengthen accountability for cyber security at all levels.

Mona Al-achkar Jabbour Pan Arab Observatory for Safety and Cyber Security

Mona Al-achkar is currently Professor of Law at "La filiere Francophone du Droit" Faculty of Law, Lebanese University, Professor- Searcher at the Legal Informatics Center and the Head of the “Lebanese Information Technologies Association” LITA. She is the principal instigator and founder of the “Pan Arab Regional Observatory for Cyber security” established in 2009. She lead a team of 24 Legal searchers, magistrates, academics, and supervised projectsintended to develop better Legal Information access. She works on issues related to the formulation of research and developments of indexation strategies, cyber legislation, development of digital Arabic content, linguistic tools, and cyber security. She coordinated bilateral cooperative projects with French Universities, implemented and supervised a project with the The Ministry of Justice in Kuwait. She has published numerous books and articles on legal informatics, Cyber law, money laundering and terrorism.

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