The Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has signed an agreement with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to pool their resources to help nations combat the growing threats from cyber hackers and information thieves.

It is the first time that two organizations within the UN system have formally agreed to cooperate at the global level on cyber security.

ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Touré said the new alliance “will help all interested countries fight the scourge of cyber threats and cyber crime and create a safer online environment for all.”

At the same time ITU teamed up with the Symantec Corporation, the largest maker of computer security software, to use Symantec’s security reports to increase understanding of cyber security risks and help interested member states respond, especially developing countries that lack the resources to develop their own response systems.

Governments around the world are beginning to take the costs of cyber crime more seriously. The Obama administration unveiled its International Strategy for Cyberspace in mid-May, calling for tougher global standards for cyber security.  It may be a first effort by the US to reach out for a global consensus on how to manage the Internet but while it is long on goals, the strategy falls short on specifics.