Stepped-up investment and cooperation urged for improved cyber security

Bled, 3 September – Accelerated digitalisation comes with an increase in cyber threats and to tackle those boosted cooperation across the board and more investments in operational capacities, particularly when it comes to staff, are needed, heard a conference on cyber security held in Bled on Friday.

Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik told the conference, organised in the framework of the Slovenian EU presidency, that cyber resilience was an extremely important topic both at national and international level.

Covid-19 has stepped up digitalisation, in particular in healthcare, education and sales, which also led to a higher risk of cyber attacks.

Uroš Svete, acting director of the Government Information Security Office, said cyber security had long ceased to be an issue only for operators and users of networks and the R&D sector, but now also concerned a much larger mass of people due to ubiquitous digitalisation.

Svete also warned there had been cases where cyber incidents had translated into the brick-and-mortal world.

Lorena Boix Alonso, director for Digital Society, Trust and Cybersecurity at the Directorate General for Communications Networks Content and Technology at the European Commission, said cyber attacks impacted our everyday lives and they troubled major companies and organisations as well as individuals.

To enhance security cooperation is vital at national level between public and private partners as well as at EU level and worldwide, Svete noted, adding that today’s conference served as an opportunity to share experiences and strengthen cooperation between all stakeholders.

The event featured directors, those in charge of cyber security, ambassadors and advisers on cyber security from EU and Western Balkan countries as well as representatives of companies, experts and public officials.

“All of us present here agree that we should urgently provide additional funding for efforts to fight against cyber threats in the EU and Western Balkans, strengthen cooperation and set up cyber incident response centres in the region,” said Koritnik.

Countries will need to join forces to better protect society against malevolent cyber activities, he added.

Slovenia attaches strategic importance to strengthening cyber capacities, including in the EU neighbourhood, particularly the Western Balkans.

A lot of capacity-building efforts in relation to experts have already been carried out in the region over the past three years with the Slovenia’s Cyber Security Response Centre playing a key role, the minister said.

When it comes to Slovenia alone, the country has been building up its capacities at both technical and operational level in recent years in what is an improvement compared to its lagging behind in the past, Svete said.

First, a competent national authority was set up, while this year a national cyber incident response plan was adopted. “Slovenia has taken the first steps, but there is still a lot of work to be done, both at national and EU level,” he said.

Alonso highlighted that the Commission was taking a series of measures to increase resilience and operational capacities for joint action and international response.

However, this will require significant investment at all levels, she said, noting that a supply chain was only as safe from attack as its weakest link.

The need for increased investment, which can be funded, among other sources, by the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility, was also highlighted by Juhan Lepassaar, executive director of the EU Agency for Cybersecurity.

Investment is needed in both the public and private sectors, in tools and especially in human resources, he said.