United Nations Specialised Agency - International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Appoints Impact As Its Cybersecurity Executing Arm

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The International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats (IMPACT) has formally become the cybersecurity executing arm of the United Nations’ (UN) specialised agency - International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in a landmark agreement that was signed during the World Summit for Information Society 2011 (WSIS) Forum in Geneva last May.

"ITU-IMPACT has received unprecedented support from some of the leading names from industry and academia". Said Datuk Mohd Noor Amin, Chairman of IMPACT.

IMPACT to provide cybersecurity support to 136 countries and to other organisations within the UN system.

IMPACT is tasked by ITU with the responsibility of providing cybersecurity assistance and support to ITU’s 193 Member States and also to other organisations within the UN system. The Memorandum of Agreement was officially signed by ITU Secretary-General Dr. Hamadoun Touré and Datuk Mohd Noor Amin, Chairman of IMPACT at the ITU’s head office in Geneva.

Founded in 1865, ITU is the oldest organisation within the UN system and functions as the UN’s specialised agency for information and communication technologies.

IMPACT’s involvement with ITU began in 2008 when it was chosen as the physical home of ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA). The GCA is an international cybersecurity framework that was formulated following deliberations by more than 100 leading experts worldwide. The GCA contains many recommendations, which when adopted and appropriately implemented, would result in improved cybersecurity for the global community of nations. Through a Memorandum of Understanding inked back in 2008, ITU made IMPACT the physical home of the GCA and had tasked IMPACT with the responsibility to operationalise the various initiatives under the GCA.

At the WSIS Forum 2011, Dr. Touré spoke of ITU-IMPACT’s fast-growing global partnership with 130-odd countries as part of this coalition. And with the expectation of more countries coming on board soon, ITU-IMPACT has become the largest global cybersecurity alliance of its kind.

In addition to this, during the 2011 WSIS Forum, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between ITU and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) which will see IMPACT playing a pivotal role in supporting both organisations in their collaboration to assist UN member states mitigate risks posed by cybercrime. IMPACT’s Global Response Centre (GRC) acts as the foremost cyber threat resource centre for the global community and provides emergency responses to facilitate identification of cyber threats and sharing of resources to assist ITU-UNODC Member States.

Since its establishment back in 2008, IMPACT serves as a politically-neutral platform which brings together governments, industry and the academia to enhance the global community’s capabilities in dealing with cyber threats.

According to Datuk Mohd Noor Amin, ITU-IMPACT has received unprecedented support from some of the leading names from industry and academia. Key partners include Microsoft, Symantec, Kaspersky Lab, Trend Micro, F-Secure, SANS Institute, (ISC)2, EC-Council as well as renowned universities worldwide. Some of these partners have been working closely with IMPACT on key initiatives, including the establishment of its Network Early Warning System (NEWS) - a real-time, aggregated early warning system to partner countries. IMPACT facilitates the pooling of resources, expertise, technology and knowledge across governments, industry and academia to significantly enhance the world’s ability to defend against and respond to cyber threats.

Since its establishment, IMPACT has deployed over 190 scholarships to recipients in over 32 countries – with priority being given to developing nations. In 2010 alone, IMPACT has conducted cybersecurity training for over 200 professionals within governments worldwide and trained 50 law enforcement officers in network investigations and cyber forensics.

Partner countries of ITU-IMPACT are also given access to a host of specialised services including monitoring, analysis and alerts on cyber threats. Thanks to its close collaboration with industry and academia, IMPACT’s Global Response Centre (GRC) hosts one of the world's most comprehensive databases on cyber threats. The GRC provides partner countries and other UN organisations access to a comprehensive global view of the current cyber threat landscape.

IMPACT’s Electronically Secure Collaborative Application Platform for Experts (ESCAPE) enables real-time collaboration between experts and empowered officials around the globe. ESCAPE also provides countries with cyber crisis management tools and coordination support services within the ITU-IMPACT framework.

The other three centres are Centre for Policy & International Cooperation, Centre for Training & Skills Development and Centre for Security Assurance & Research. These centres provide consulting and training services, scholarships, reports and expertise to governments, industry and academia in partner countries to enable stakeholders to take command of its global leadership role in the interest of national cybersecurity. IMPACT’s global hub is located in Cyberjaya, Malaysia and is staffed by a diverse and multi-disciplinary international workforce.

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