Security has become a shared global concern over the past decade, as it has become evident that no single nation has all the necessary resources to protect its citizens. As such, the need for intelligence sharing is more vital now than in any other point in history. Indeed, while technological advancements have brought the world closer together in the figurative sense, they have created new types of threats that can be launched remotely and have a devastating impact on entire societies.
Among the most notable threats witnessed in the modern era was the Stuxnet computer worm, which almost single-handedly shut down Iranian critical infrastructure, demonstrating that cyber attacks are just as dangerous and can even be as life-threatening as traditional physical attacks. While direct threats to critical infrastructure are at the forefront of national security concerns across the globe, governments must also concurrently monitor the economic impact of other cyber threats that can potentially shut down the economic engines of an entire nation. Although cyber attacks targeting high profile corporations have now become a common occurrence, one must not ignore the increasing prevalence of sophisticated malware attacks targeting individual users on a broad scale. Most recently, the WannaCry worm demonstrated how quickly ransomware can be spread among individual users, showing that this type of attack can lead to significant financial, legal, and security ramifications for businesses and governments.
Taking into account the physical and cyber threats to which all nations are vulnerable, cooperation and intelligence-sharing are the only effective strategy for governments to effectively protect their citizens. The need to establish mutual trust among intelligence communities is increasingly becoming evident, as seen with intelligence failures during recent terrorist attacks in the UK and France. In these occurrences, intelligence agencies “missed the mark” on preventing attacks due to lack of cooperation or by simply dismissing intelligence received from the relevant agencies of neighboring countries that had already identified potential threats.
In that vein, international security cannot be implemented without cross-country cooperation. Security was recognized as a key global issue of 2017, seen, for example, in the German-led initiative for the advancement of EU security and defense integration, as well as China’s significant security presence in Africa. Given this, one would expect that a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 Summit would boost US-Russia security cooperation. However, US domestic politics have hindered the level of global cooperation required to establish an effective and unified security policy. Moreover, the US appears to be further distancing itself from the global community, subsequently causing a reorganization of cooperation among states. Through its non-participation in the Paris Accord, the US appears to have brought the EU and China, and possibly even Russia and OPEC countries, closer together in a common cause.
The diversity of such topics, united under the common theme of global security, shows that this element pervades every aspect and stratum of society, both domestically and globally. Recognizing its importance and reacting accordingly and expeditiously is integral to mitigating the risks caused by global security concerns and the threats that can arise when these are not addressed in due time.