Cooperation a key theme of Brussels cyber security symposium

Fostering trust-based cooperation of like-minded cyber security stakeholders to create new strategies, policies and standards emerged as a key theme at a cyber security conference in Brussels

Cyber trust, close transatlantic relations, strong European cyber autonomy and regional cooperation in particular were highlighted at the 2019 CyberSec Brussels Leaders’ Foresight symposium.

The event was attended by cyber security experts from the EU and Nato, international organisations, and the global IT industry to discuss cyber security issues.

“As we are rapidly moving towards a ‘smart world’ we need to introduce the concept of ‘smart power’,” said Izabela Albrycht, chair of The Kosciuszko Institute and president of organising committee of the European Cybersecurity Forum (CyberSec).

“We can define ‘smart power’ as the flexible and agile use of all the tools we have to build a secure cyber world and to foster our interests in cyber space,” she told the opening session of the conference.

However, Albrycht said that “smart power” that merges “soft” and “hard” power may be excised only through cooperation and the pooling of resources and capabilities of all stakeholders.

For this reason, she said the cyber security call of “one for all and all for one” has never been more important.

As a signatory of the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace and the organiser of the event, the Kosciuszko Institute and CyberSec have issued a report published in partnership with Microsoft and PwC that calls for the development of common principles for a secure cyber space.

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The report notes that while there is no doubt that running businesses in the ICT sector brings huge benefits and opportunities, they go hand in hand with equally large responsibility.

The report therefore recommends that tech companies should introduce security by design that embeds strong cyber security foundations into products and services in the entire value chain throughout their entire life cycle; impose appropriate mechanisms, such as mechanisms to maintain customer privacy, for example; launch initiatives that tackle strategic cyber security problems; and take actions at a strategic level by building platforms of cooperation within the digital sector and influencing the surrounding environment in order to make it more secure and to proactively raise a greater level of cyber security and increase trust in new technologies.

At the same time, the report said state actors must understand that in addition to laying down requirements, commercial enterprises must receive broad support for their efforts, which are critical for entire societies.

“We need to pool our resources and build alliances, partnerships, institutions, norms and regulations to achieve the outcomes we want,” said Albrycht.

“We need to build resilience can deterrents together, and by ‘we’ I mean you and Nato countries as well as our allies around the world, hand in hand with corporate partners and likeminded non-governmental organisations.

“We also need to innovate and invest together in cutting edge technologies because cyber security in a ‘smart world’ era is about making sure that technology will not overpower us, but will empower us.”

Joint action

The Paris Call and the Charter of Trust, said Albrycht, are two examples of such joint action, while the recently begun Women4Cyber initiative by the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO) is an example of other initiatives aimed at strengthening cyber security capabilities.

“No cooperation between states, tech companies and international institutions is possible without trust, and the trust we are calling for has many dimensions,” she said, adding that these are outlined in the newly published report on the need for collective and responsible actions in the digital world.

Albrycht said the Brussels conference was aimed at presenting “out-of-the-box thinking” about cyber security challenges that will be collated into another set of “useful and practical” recommendations for “pursuing a cyber secure future” and predicting developments in cyber space.

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