By Kiyoshi Berman The Project Global Action on Cybercrime (GLACY)International Conference on the theme ‘Assessing the threat of cybercrime’ concluded successfully last week at the BMICH. This conference was organised by the Council of Europe in cooperation with the Information and Communication Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Computer Emergency Readiness Team (SLCERT). –
Comprehensive public policies are needed to help protect societies against the evergrowingthreat of cybercrime. Public reporting on cybercrime and the collection of criminaljustice statistics are essential for well-informed and effective policy responses in this respect.The conference was, therefore, aimed at identifying solutions and specific steps to be taken inparticipating countries towards stronger criminal justice strategies and improved mechanisms forpublic reporting and statistics on cybercrime and electronic evidence. The conference brought together some 90 seniorrepresentatives and public and private sector experts from Australia, Bangladesh, France,Germany, India, Mauritius, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Senegal, Singapore,South Africa, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. ICTAChairperson Chitranganie Mubarak welcomed the guests to this historic event in Sri Lanka while conveying her sincere appreciation for giving ICTA the opportunity to co-host this event along with SLCERT. “ICTA is the apex ICT institution for the Government. It was established in 2003 under the stewardship of the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who is the Prime Minister again today as well. In terms of the Information and Communication Technology Act No. 27 of 2003, the ICTA has been mandated to give policy directions in the country as well as to implement action plans. One of the key action plans that have been implemented by the ICTA is the e-Sri Lanka development program,” she said as she gave an introduction to ICTA. “The ICTA legal division has been working very closely with the Cybercrime Unit of the Council of Europe over the years. We’re delighted by the
recent announcement that Sri Lanka has been invited to join the Budapest Convention. I’m told that it is this fact that led to this international conference hosted in Sri Lankaand Sri Lanka’s inclusion as a priority country of the Project Global Action on Cybercrime (GLACY),” she added. Fighting cybercrime effectively Kamalini De Silva, Secretary Justice of Sri Lanka, delivered a speech sharing her views on this event.“The effective fight against cybercrime requires us to obtain the bill of electronic evidence stored on computer systems and networks in other countries. The Budapest Convention greatly enhances our ability to gather electronic evidence in order to investigate cyber laundering and other serious crimes. Further, the Budapest Convention will also help us in law enforcement and judicial corporation at an international level while ensuring adherence to human rights safeguard in the investigation process. The Computer Crimes Act of 2007 includes most of the safeguards under the Budapest Convention. Therefore, I hope that ICTA with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will take appropriate steps to join the Budapest Cybercrimes Convention as soon as possible,” she said. The Ministry of Justice is fully committed towards this cause because this is very important in an administration of justice perspective. In addition to recommending legislation in the field of Information Technology, the Ministry of Justice recognises the work of the ICTA in safeguarding and protecting our critical information infrastructure with the establishment of the Sri Lanka CERT, she added. Sri Lanka’s progress Alexander Seger, Head of Cybercrime Division, Council of Europe shared his views on this event and Sri Lanka’s progress in fighting cybercrime. “This event is yet another station of an ongoing corporation between Sri Lanka and Cybercrime Division that started seven years ago. In this connection I would like to thank ICTA and particularly Jayantha Fernando for not only protecting the society and individuals in Sri Lanka from the threat of cybercrime and letting them enjoy the benefits of technologies but also for ensuring that Sri Lanka is becoming a reliable partner of the international community in IT matters. The meeting is extraordinary because it comes at the moment when Sri Lanka has just been invited to join the Budapest Convention of Cybercrime,” he highlighted. He further said: “The expected outcome of the conference is two folds. One to develop with you, specifically towards cybercrime policies and strategies and of course such policies need to be based on knowledge. The second expected outcome is that we develop specific proposals to improve criminal justice statistics as well as public reporting mechanisms.” Ubiquityof technology and potential threats David Daly, Ambassador, Head of the European Union Delegation to Sri Lanka discussed the ubiquity of technology and its potential threats. “Technological breakthroughs bring great potential for both good and bad. The benefits of the Information Technology Revolution are obvious to us all- reinforcing economic development, facilitating social connections, making financial payments from our living rooms, the list is endless. Having a strong ICT sector is especially important for our economies; greater connectivity strengthens our economic and social development in a self-reinforcing way. Part of the down side, however, is the acceleration of cybercrime, unlawful activity involving some IT element in its application or execution. The scope is enormous, there are over 10billion Internet-facing devices in operation today. Cybercrime ignores borders; criminals take advantage of the territoriality of legislation to make their crimes harder to investigate and prosecute.” He underscored that cybercrime threatens individuals through identity theft, assets through monetary or data theft, infrastructure through attacking critical software and national security through espionage or terrorism. However, no country is immune from these threats. “The EU understands the need for capacity building among Parties to the Budapest Convention. Legal frameworks must be updated; law enforcement actors must be trained in appropriate technologies. This is a large part of what we support through this GLACY project.Learning from each other is of great importance; governments, international organisations and the private sector have much to contribute. This is an important part of this conference,” he asserted.
Cybercrimes and cyberattacks Nobuhito Hobo, Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka shared his experience and views on cybercrime. “Cyber space continues to expand across borders and with such development, cyber threats are also globalising. Cybercrimes and cyber attacks are becoming an eminent challenge. According to the 2015 edition of global Risks published by the World Economic Forum, data fraud or theft and cyber attacks rank in the top 10 risks in terms of technological risks,” he said. He mentioned that, Japan as an Asian country in the Budapest Convention encourages other Asian countries to join the Convention. Japan welcomes Sri Lanka to join the convention as a fast country in the Asian region, he added. How Sri Lanka can benefit Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ajith P. Pereraexpressed a few thoughts of how Sri Lanka can benefit from this conference. “We have some natural advantages and the next huge advantage is our human resources. We’re really a small Asian village, there are cities in Asia with 20 million people and that comes to our entire population. But we have one of the most educated populations in the region. The emphasis of our new government is to build the soft infrastructure of our country and to prioritise the soft infrastructure over the hard infrastructure… Good governance is about creating the environment and your conference on cybercrime fits in very well to this” he said. Pix by Sameera Wijesinghe