Why Is Cybersecurity Important?

The topic of Cybersecurity has already gained
an enormous amount of significance, and as
technology continues to race forward, so does the
importance of a globally secure cyber network.
Cyberspace is an asset in connecting the
international community. However, the more
connected countries – and the people in them –
become, the easier it becomes to target large
groups of people and large blocks of countries
simultaneously. It has even been noted by
previous UN assemblies that if cyber warfare goes
unchecked it could “topple the entire edifice of
international security.” 1

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Cybercrimes fall into two broad categories
that are detrimental to the stability of the
international cyber community: data breaches
and sabotage.2 Data breaches are a risk for

October 2014,
https://www.un.org/press/en/2014/gadis3512.doc.htm.
2 Detlev Gabel, “Cyber risk: Why cyber security is
important,” White & Case, 1 July 2015, accessed 1 July 2017.

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everyone from the common person to international
organizations, as these can come in the form of
stealing personal identification information to state
secrets. Often these breaches occur to steal money
in some form or another, and it has been estimated
that cyberattacks ”

4.

Cyber war “consists of military operations
with cyberspace to deny an adversary. . .
the effective use of information systems

and weapons.” 4

Please note, that while these definitions are

widely used, they have not been agreed upon by
the UN member states and variation in the
definitions across states allows for the acceptance

different activities.

A main goal of this Committee is to create a
feasible way to combat these cyber attacks, if not

to stop them altogether.

It is also imperative that the Committee

address ways to deal with emerging threats.
Technology advances at an incredibly fast pace,
and so it is necessary to stay up-to-date with
combatting new types of attacks as soon as
possible once they have emerged. Additionally,
the platforms that are at risk and thus necessary
to be included in cybersecurity needs to be

discussed.

cost the global economy over

$400 billion per year.”3 Sabotage, on the other
hand, can be in many forms but generally aims to
disable systems for whatever purpose. The real
threat of these attacks lies in that most cyberattacks
go unnoticed until it is too late, if they are ever

noticed at all.

Currently, while there have been discussions

regarding the necessity of combatting and
preventing cyberattacks, there is no singular,
international effort to bolster cybersecurity. It is
imperative that a united effort is decided upon, as
all countries need to be held to certain standards
not only to combat attacks, but to prevent more

from occurring in the future.

Major Issues the Committee Must Address

Historical Background

Notable Past Cybersecurity Threats

There are several major issues that must be

addressed in order to combat the existing and
future threats to cybersecurity. First, there is the
issue of transparency. The UN has spent its history
creating a cooperative international community. As
means of attack advance, it is important that
cooperation efforts advance as well. The issue of
transparency is directly tied into the need for some
measure of checks and balances on UN members,
which must be addressed by the Committee as well.

Second, threats as they have previously been

identified must be addressed. As previously stated,
cybercrimes broadly fall into two categories: data
breach and sabotage. These attacks can be further
divided into identified categories of cybercrime,
cyber espionage, cyber terrorism, and cyber war. To
fully understand these categories, definitions have

been provided:

Cybercrime is “the use of computers or
related systems to steal or compromise
confidential information for criminal

purposes, most often for financial gain,”

Cyber espionage is “the use of computers or
related systems to collect intelligence to

enable certain operations,”

Cyber terrorism is “the use of computers or
related systems to create fear or panic in a

society,” and

The Morris Worm

In 1988, Robert Tappan Morris created the

first computer worm ever to be transmitted
through the internet, aiming not to harm but to
determine exactly how vast cyberspace is.5
Unfortunately, the worm mutated and ended up
infecting over 600 computers in an estimated
$100 million dollars of damage.6 While it may
have been unintentional, this denial of service to
those computers via the Morris Worm is the first
documented case of cyber sabotage and has

inspired many contemporary attacks.

Solar Sunrise

Ten years after the Morris Worm, in what was

originally thought to have been an Iraqi effort to
seize US government and private computer
systems, over 500 systems running on the Sun
Solaris operating software were seized by the
hackers.7 The culprits were later found to not be
Iraqi operatives, but rather three teenagers from
California. While this revelation did halt any
backlash that may have been caused on the
international scale, the attack itself was able to
cripple the entire country’s software

1.

2.
3.

3 Ibid.
4 Harry, Katzan, Jr., “Contemporary Issues in Cybersecurity,”
Journal of Cybersecurity Research, June 2016, accessed 1
June 2017.

5 “Top 10 Most Notorious Cyber Attacks in History,” ARN,
accessed 1 June 2017.
6 Ibid.
7 Ibid.

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infrastructure. This highlighted exactly how
extensive a collaborative effort could be on both the
private and public sector, particularly because the

because it would shut down the servers of
important banks, stock exchanges, corporations,
etc. The ramifications of this attack in regards to
information are also vast, as the servers would
have been left unguarded, making it that much
easier to steal valuable information from
individuals, corporations, governments, and

international organizations.

attack had been an effort by three rookie hackers.

Teen Hacks NASA and the US Department of

Defense

Only one year later, another teen by the name of

Jonathan James was able to penetrate both the US
Department of Defense and, using the information
stolen, he was able to steal part of a NASA software
program, shutting down systems for three weeks.8
This event highlights both data breach and sabotage
crimes, showing that the two are not mutually
exclusive. As the software stolen was also related to
the International Space Station, the attack also
showed that one crime could affect not just one

nation, but many all at once.

Google China hit by Cyber Attack

In 2009, Google China was hit by a cyber

attack in which hackers infiltrated Google’s
corporate servers in order to steal intellectual
property – main Gmail accounts owned by
Chinese human rights activists.12 This crime was
later also found to be tied to unauthorized access
to private Gmail accounts of users in the US,
China, and all over Europe. China is known to be
rather stringent in its internet policies and
censorship and this is yet another example of a
nation targeting those who are a threat. It also
shows that a corporation that is used worldwide is
not impenetrable, despite many using it to send

and share private information.

Internet Attacked

In 2002, the largest attack on the internet of the

time occurred, shutting down the internet for an
hour.9 Although the average user was unable to
notice any changes in service due to safeguards, the
hackers were able to attack and shut down 13 of the
main root servers that provide internet. Had the
attack lasted for longer, even the average user
would have been able to feel the attack. This attack
brought this issue to the forefront of global
attention. The problems boiled down to money and
vulnerability. Experts on the issue stated that the
“only way to stop such attacks is to fix the
vulnerabilities on the machines . . . There’s no
defense once the machines are under the attacker’s
control.”10 It was also noted by the same experts
that only those with money would even be able to
protect themselves, and even then, it would be
unlikely that their systems would be able to
withstand a concerted attack.11 This attack was a
much-needed wake-up call to exactly how vast
threats could be and how very little could be done
to combat them. Years later, money and
vulnerabilities in machines and software are still
some of the largest problems in combatting attacks.
It also remains a problem that most attacks can only
be prevented, and if one is able to be launched, it is
much, much more difficult to stop the attacks and
can cost the targets millions of dollars, mainly

July 2009 Cyber Attacks

In a series of coordinated attacks, hackers

were able to infiltrate thousands of computers
belonging to US and South Korean government
agencies, media agencies, and banks. The attacks
were done with a botnet, or group of hijacked
computers. The assumed aim of the attack was to
cause disruption, rather than steal information.13
Despite not having that large of an impact on the
computers, if the attack had gone as planned, the
estimated cost associated with the websites being
down would have been huge, as it would have
prevented business transactions from being
carried out as planned and halted government
work. The troubling aspect of these attacks came
from the unknown perpetrator. It was largely
assumed by Korean Intelligence agencies that the
attack stemmed from North Korea. However, it
was also found that the hijacked computers hailed
from all over the globe, making it difficult to

pinpoint those at fault.