Recently, one observation emerged: phishing messages play on the fear of viruses. There are three angles, economic, financial and social, which refer to Inter-Country Ties, one of the features of Cyber Diplomacy that can constitute a link between the cyber world and the (corona)virus.
To decipher clearly these terms by restating their basic context :
Cyber world or Cyberspace refers to the virtual computer world, and more specifically, is an electronic medium used to from a global computer network to facilitate online communication.
Cyber Diplomacy refers the use of diplomatic matters as much as cyber matters to resolve issues from cyberspace (Riordan, 2016).
- Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus.
This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Since the 30th of January 2020, 2019-nCoV outbreak was declared a public health emergency of international concern.
- Cyberspace is a place where the Internet flourishes and where people can benefit from it, interact with each other, etc.
All sorts of news, informations, gathered articles about the coronavirus (CoV-19) are spreading across the Internet including TV channels (nationals and international) and social medias, i.e. more generally cyberspace.
- The issue is that this kind of words from this outbreak call for fears and chaos across the world, and within this hyper- and inter-connected world we live in. Therefore, it triggers a lot of difficulties and problems of another nature arising from cyberspace.
How the (corona)virus is playing out in the cyber world ?
- Three possible angles of analysis can be highlighted: social, economic, financial. Because these components are interrelated, if not interdependent, there are significant aspects of the current situation. As a matter of fact, following the breaking news against the extent of the virus, this has a certain incentive within diverse sectors intrinsically correlated.
The situation goes beyond the diplomatic relations that need to be nurtured in order to maintain commercial ties within various countries. For example, it may involve cyberspace-related informations that developed rapidly, leading to complex situations. It may be the type of regime or political system in place with a higher level and dimension.
At the economic level
There is an impact on big corporations such as the GAFAMs (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft).
According to recent articles on Microsoft, or Apple, for example, it gives an explanation of the economical consequences brought via the virus. Especially, these corporations need to revised down from their profits and forecasts (sales, manufacturing, producing, etc.). Moreover, in terms of cyber security, this companies can plausibly be faced with more technical issues in terms of security breach.
Indeed, most of these companies advise their employees to work from home in order to limit interactions or any risk of contamination. A few staff members are on site, which reduces the guard presence and vigilance against all types of cyber attacks.
Furthermore, an example of cyber attacks would be linked to the takeover of a company’s business accounts via malicious software. Moreover, this leads to multiple consequences, namely financial loss, economic loss and loss of the Internet Protocol (IP).
Thus, the current situation goes beyond the COVID-19 epidemic. It involves many more issues and difficulties that are developing exponentially.
At the financial level
The major downfall of the stock markets in Wall Street has been closely linked with the virus inputs.
Indeed, China being the epicentre of the disease, this has affected massively the business aspects. Specifically, there was an impact on imports and exports.
On another note, there was also an impact on travel stocks. This includes the desertification of airports, the cancellations of many flights and travels around the world.
Certain experts have reported that this recession has been even worse than the 2008 crisis (financial bubble). Certainly, as investors seek to buy, fears of viruses are crushing one sector after another.
At the social level
Recently, hackers and cybercriminals have been taking this news into their advantages. They are spreading phishing messages attempts which are playing on people’s virus fears.
This has an impact on civilians, weaken or victimised individuals, and populations across the world, transgressing any borders or frontiers of the world. They are making the most of it by using it to pursue in a brand-new alternative for their activities just like a catalyst of malicious contents.
Cyber Diplomacy’s input: expertise and pillar
- Outlining one of the features of Cyber Diplomacy — Inter-Country Ties — could be a plausible link between cyber world and coronavirus.
This concerns the effects on trade agreements and diplomatic relations. This includes States, Inter-Governmental Organisations (IGOs) or Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), industries, etc.
Indeed, this link would be interpreted as a situation transcending the diplomatic relations to be sustained in order to maintain commercial links between countries.
- A strategy of misinformation existed from the outset leading the global situation from an epidemic state to a pandemic state. It goes beyond the diplomatic relations that must be fostered to ensure continued trade links between countries.
In addition, information related to cyberspace has rapidly crossed frontiers and led to complex situations.
PhD-Doctorante en Cyber Diplomatie (division de Cyber Sécurité)