World War III could be fought on Internet, says ITU head

The best way to win it will be to stop it happening, according to Secretary General Hamadoun Touré

Threats of cyberwar and a story of real violence rubbed shoulders at a news conference to mark the opening of the ITU Telecom World exhibition and forum in Geneva on Monday.

"The next world war could begin in cyberspace," warned Hamadoun Touré, secretary general of the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations agency that organized the event.

The beginnings of such an unconventional war could be out of the control of conventional diplomacy, he said, because in cyberspace "there is no such thing as a superpower: Every citizen is a superpower." With an army of "bots," or compromised computers, at their command, almost anyone could wield great power in a virtual battle, as a number of recent denial-of-service attacks against targets around the world have shown.

"We know from conventional wars that the best way to win is not to start," Touré said.

That's why the ITU is pushing an ambitious worldwide program for cybersecurity and peace.

"By the end of next year, we will broker a global agreement with every country to protect its citizens online, not to harbor cyberterrorists, and not to start an online attack," he said.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon began by expressing his sorrow at news of an all-too-real attack, the suicide bombing earlier in the day of the Islamabad, Afghanistan, office of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, which left several people dead.

Returning to the theme of the conference, he highlighted "a world divided," those with access to information on one side, and those without on the other.

Encouraging the participation of "our youth, drivers of innovation and change," is vital if those divisions are to be eradicated, he said.

Investment in infrastructure and services must be encouraged too in order to eliminate the technology divide -- but the motive should be profit, not charity, Touré said.

"In our strategy of connecting the world, we have no need for charity: It's pure business. If you have the right business plan, you will have investment," he said.

The telecommunications industry will always have investment, because it's a profitable industry, he said.

That's turning out to be the case in Rwanda, said President Paul Kagame, where state infrastructure projects have attracted investment from Chinese network equipment manufacturers.

"The availability of capital for everything is getting more and more scarce, but in our country there is a strong partnership between public and private sectors," he said.

China continues to invest internationally, despite the impact of the global economic crisis and the attraction of the untapped potential of its home market, said Wang Jianzhou, chairman and chief executive officer of China Mobile, also present at the news conference.

"We have still got challenges from the international financial crisis," he said. In the company's home market, revenue from international calls is down 20 percent because of a reduction in tourism and manufacturing exports, he said.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?