Often, the question of cybersecurity appears in the context of corporate or individual users. No wonder.
Each of us is an individual computer user and we all share the same or similar concerns prompting us to take very seriously issues concerning security. Driven by such concerns, many companies, which have a lot more to lose than a collection of family photographs, have long invested in security. Their management know only too well not just how big the risk is but that it increases day by day.
If only security concerns ended with individuals and organizations! Recently, a third target group has come into prominence. Individuals’ computers, intra-company networks or even whole institutions do not matter nearly as much as that ultimate good, which is national cybersecurity.
A few months ago I came across a novel by – who would have thought! – a British general who until recently held a senior post in NATO structures. Threaded through the book the likes of which I am not terribly keen on because they conjure up visions of impending military conflicts is a theme about national cybersecurity. Before the book has even been translated into Polish, reality has added to it another chapter – and very low on optimism it is too. I need not say what I mean, I think.
National cybersecurity is rarely discussed in Poland. That is too rarely given the level of threat and the challenges that need addressing. At the same time it is the first time in history we’ve been hearing so many warnings (from Europe as well as from across the ocean) about neglecting the military aspect of cyberspace. I haven’t used the word internet on purpose because the internet is only one, if the most prominent, of the battlefields of cyberwarfare. The book I’ve mentioned focuses on the threats to the information infrastructure, government-operated hardware and software. Cyberattacks, of which we’ve heard so much, are only the tip of the iceberg. And if the chief of the British counterintelligence service makes public confessions (which is unprecedented in the long history of MI6) and makes references to cyberwarfare, we should entertain little doubt that matters have reached such a pretty pass that we should continue to pretend that there is nothing to worry about. Incidentally, one of the characters in this novel seriously wonders whether Great Britain is as well prepared to fight a cyberwar as the United States.
The events to which we bear witness call for a firm response. It is no surprise then that in July the European Parliament brought in new regulations concerning cybersecurity. The problem was catapulted to the top of the Polish government’s agenda as well. A statement issued by the Ministry of Digitalization heralds adoption of a 2016-2020 Cybersecurity Strategy for Poland as early as November this year. The action required is all the more urgent especially after the ministry’s admission at the beginning of November that critical areas of our cyber infrastructure had been the target of cyberattacks. All this seems to suggest that there is an awareness of threat. Is this awareness a trigger for the awareness of having to spend large amounts of money on national cybersecurity? Time will tell.
For more information on cyberattacks on critical areas of our cyber infrastructure, see:
Here is an assessment of the state of Poland’s cybersecurity:
Interesting statement from the government on the same subject: