Cybersecurity Needs International Cooperation

In the era of Industry 4.0, data flows will become an even more important production factor. But hacker attacks are increasing worldwide and causing ever greater damage. Countermeasures are necessary and must be harmonized at international level. The United States remains the most important player in global cybersecurity.

Hacker Attacks Are Causing Ever Greater Damage

Owing to global interconnectedness, information-technology attacks do not know national borders. In the last five years, the number of attacks worldwide has increased sixfold, from 10 million to almost 60 million a year. And we observe a wide range of threats and challenges. Most recently, hackers hijacked everyday objects like webcams or routers and carry out denial-of-service attacks (DDos). Industrial enterprises are often victims of targeted, scheduled and more complex attacks. Attackers seek prolonged access to the IT infrastructure of a company in order to steal, manipulate or destroy data. In doing so, they can cause huge damage. In the case of large companies, the average cost of repairs per attack is around €800,000.

Defence Strategies Must Be Coordinated at the International Level

Security in the digitally interconnected world is only possible through cooperation. Effective protection from cyberattacks demands countermeasures that are developed in an international context. Under Germany’s Presidency of the G20 in 2017, the issue of cybersecurity is on the agenda for the first time. Moreover, industry takes a stand on the issue within the Business 20 (B20) process. This is necessary because the level of protection is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain.

We need worldwide open markets for cybersecurity products and services. Therefore, bilateral and international trade agreements must harmonize international security requirements and standards. With regard to law enforcement, mutual legal assistance treaties are necessary to enforce law in digital space in a timely manner. Moreover, common international standards should be developed for state access to communications and information structures. And bilateral statements of intent on outlawing industrial espionage should be rapidly drafted and specified.

The United States and the EU Are Important Actors on the International Stage

In the digital economy, the United States is the No. 1 global player. The world’s most innovative and competitive IT companies are U.S. based. The United States has thus particular responsibility for cybersecurity policy. Together with the United States, Germany and the EU must make a commitment in bilateral and multilateral agreements to establish a reliable cybersecurity regime. Undermining NATO would send the wrong signal.