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Conference calls for global effort to combat cyber terror

2014-11-21 08:48 Global Times Web Editor: Qian Ruisha

The Internet has become a major new tool for terrorist activities in China which requires deepened international cooperation in coping with the unprecedented challenge, an official with China's Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said Thursday at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province.

"Cyber terrorism has emerged as a new form of terrorism in this digital age … the Internet has become an important tool and channel for organizing, inciting and launching terror activities," said Gu Jianguo, director of the MPS cyber security and protection bureau.

The rise of terrorism in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has become a major threat to China's national security in recent years. Extremist ideologies have been spread through websites, blogs, social media platforms and cloud services.

Police investigations revealed that the assailants involved in the 2013 Tiananmen Square attack and the attacks in railway stations at Kunming in Yunnan Province and Xinjiang capital Urumqi this year were influenced by videos featuring extremist ideologies. These were released by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a UN-listed terrorist group which claimed responsibility for the attacks, said Gu.

Since 2010, ETIM has released 282 videos inciting people to participate in jihad. The videos outlined bomb-making techniques and spread religious extremism.

Experts point out that the Internet makes it even harder to detect and identify terrorist activities, which results in delays in tracking and removing the threats.

"As we currently lack sufficient manpower and resources [for investigations], terror videos often circulate for quite a long time before we are able to spot them," Wang Guoxiang, an anti-terrorism expert at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

"Other countries also face the same threat of terrorism spreading through online videos. The resolution passed last year at the UN Security Council was a promising beginning to international cooperation, but it has to be deepened," said Qin An, director of the China Institute of Cyberspace Strategy.

The UN Security Council in December 2013 passed a resolution that demands intensified international cooperation in the fight against terrorism, with specific mention of terrorists spreading extremist ideologies online.

Separately on Wednesday as the conference began, Liu Jieyi, Chinese envoy to the UN, called for global efforts to tackle cyber terrorism at a Security Council meeting. He urged the international community to enhance information sharing and effectively implement relevant resolutions adopted by the Security Council and the General Assembly.

Cheng Lin, president of the People's Public Security University of China, urged the international community to seek consensus on the definition of cyber terrorism, to build a legal framework for anti-terrorism activities in cyberspace, and to create international cooperation mechanisms.

Gu called for global recognition that all activities that promote and incite terrorism in cyberspace and all online activities by UN-listed terror groups should be defined as cyber terrorism.

He added that enterprises and citizens should also be aware of the threat and participate in the fight, cutting off the methods by which terrorism is spread.

However, there has been a lack of consensus over how to define national territories and borders for law enforcement in cyberspace, said Qin.

The US, a traditional Internet superpower, may have a different definition of terrorist activities than China, which has added obstacles to cooperation between the two major powers, said Qin.

"To combat malicious cyber activities, we need a more integrated, coordinated and concerted effort by government agencies, industry and community organizations, and research institutions," Raymond Choo, a senior lecturer at the School of Information Technology and Mathematical Sciences with the University of South Australia, told the Global Times via e-mail.

To mitigate cybercrime risks and make informed decisions about cyber security, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the threat landscape and look ahead to potential offenses in the online environment. One thing for sure is that a cyber security protection doctrine based on military deterrence will not work, as it would be rather unlikely for governments to resort to large-scale hostile or military cyber retaliation simply on the basis of cui bono logic or circumstantial evidence, said Choo.

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