Senior UN official warns that cyber crime is on the rise in a pandemic

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The UN chief of disarmament warned on Friday that cybercrime is on the rise, with a 600% increase in malicious emails during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Izumi Nakamitsu said at an informal meeting of the UN Security Council that the coronavirus crisis is leading the world toward greater technological innovation and online collaboration. But he said, "There have also been troubling reports of (cyber) attacks on healthcare organizations and medical research facilities around the world."

The senior representative for disarmament affairs said that increasing digital dependence has increased vulnerability to cyber attacks, with one such attack estimated to occur every 39 seconds.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, he said, almost 90 countries are still in the early stages of their cybersecurity commitments.

Nakamitsu said the threat of misuse of information and communication technology "is urgent."

But he said there is also good news, signaling global progress at the United Nations to address threats from a group of government experts who developed 11 non-binding voluntary standards for responsible state behavior in the use of such technology.

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas, whose country holds the presidency of the Security Council and organized the meeting on Friday, said the need for "a safe and functional cyberspace,quot; is more pressing than ever. He condemned cyber attacks on hospitals, medical research facilities, and other infrastructure, especially during the pandemic.

"Those attacks are unacceptable," said Rats. "It will be important to hold criminals accountable for their behavior."

Russia did not attend the informal council meeting broadcast online, which was the centerpiece of the Estonian council presidency. The other 14 nations on the council did, along with 50 other nations that spoke.

The Russian UN mission said in a statement on its website that it did not attend because Estonia, the United Kingdom and the United States violated "established practice,quot; that all council members attend informal meetings "regardless of whether they approve or they disapprove of their subject. "

The three countries did not attend a Russian-sponsored informal meeting on Crimea on Thursday. All three oppose Russia's seizure and annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

In March, USA The US, UK, and Estonia accused Russian military intelligence of carrying out cyber attacks on the government and media websites in Georgia, calling the attacks "a continuing pattern of cyber operations … reckless against several countries "that,quot; clearly contradict Russia, it tries to affirm that it is a responsible actor in cyberspace ".

Estonia was the target of a massive three-week cyber attack during a dispute with Russia in 2007 over Estonia's removal of the Bronze Soldier's Soviet war memorial from the center of the capital, Tallinn. The attack disabled the websites of government ministries, political parties, newspapers, banks, and businesses.

Since then, Estonia has built its cyber defenses and has become one of the most connected societies in Europe and a pioneer in the development of "e-government,quot;. Being highly dependent on computers, it is also highly vulnerable to cyber attack.

Russia has addressed the issue of cybercrime at the United Nations and obtained the approval of the General Assembly in December for a resolution that will begin the process of drafting a new international treaty to combat cybercrime over the objections of the European Union, the United States and others. They said it would undermine international cooperation to combat cybercrime.

"We have witnessed malicious cyber activity that appears designed to undermine the efforts of the United States and our international partners to protect, assist and inform the public during this global pandemic," said Acting Deputy Ambassador to the United States, Cherith Norman. Chalet, at the meeting on Friday.

He warned that actions hampering hospital and healthcare systems that deliver critical services "could have deadly results."

The Russian UN mission released the speech it would have delivered at the council meeting, which says that "the world literally stands now before choosing between global cyber peace or cyber warfare."

Russia said the COVID-19 pandemic introduced dramatic changes in people's lives and showed that global dependence on information and telecommunications technologies "is now unprecedented."

Moscow accused an "elite minority,quot;, whose members it did not identify, of actively pursuing "the militarization of cyberspace by pushing the concept of,quot; pre-emptive military cyber attacks, "including against critical infrastructure."

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