Voltaire is attributed the quote that the most important decision one makes is to be in a good mood.
There is a challenge that we are supposed to deal with in the CS-AWARE project: some members of what one may call the ‘digital society’ in the EU are more vulnerable to confront with cyber-attacks as they are less prepared, have no expertise, little or no knowledge and, most importantly, little or llimited access to financial or technology resources.
Many times we have been wondering why did the European Commission and the respponsibles of the Secure Society Programme came up with the idea of a call that would target individuals, SMEs and local public administrations? Why local public administrations? And why not regional or central government authorities?
The Ministry of Interior of Greece has a number of 64.261 employees. One can easily imagine that amongst them, there is good potential for building competences that will help cope with cyber-threats.
Most local public administrations all over Europe lack sufficient awareness and can only allocate extremely limited resources – both technical and human – to counter cyber risks This makes them an easier target for e.g. ransomware attacks, compared to large organizations. Can they afford to hire or pay for security professionals and experts? In all our communications and interactions with localpublic administrations in all countries that CS-AWARE partners are active, the answer was negative. Working for or with a local public administration requires one to be in a constant learning process since cybersecurity is a significantly complex and fast-evolving field.
We have seen this when we compared the type of skills that are needed for e.g. support for the ERP systems of local public administrations, where one may expect that training is necessary on a timescale that exceeds sometimes the 2 years. We wish the same might be the case in our area, where there is a demand for tailored research to innovation to support cybersecurity needs for this market.
We are aware that the scale, the value and the sensitivity of personal data in the cyberspace are significantly increasing. This increases the risk for local public administrations to fail meeting the needs and the expectations of the citizens who are typically unaware and sometimes also uncertain about who monitors, accesses and modifies their personal data. The more unaware the citizens are, the more increases the responsibility for a local public administration to take increased care of all these personal data.
In CS-AWARE we claim that ‘we see and hear what others cannot’. This looks like a nice marketing slogan – we can imagine that sometimes a slogan only can help create a market. But no one can sustain a market only with a slogan. One needs an innovative solution that shall increase the knowledge sharing in cybersecurity across local public administrations also take care to guarantee (or if you like to ‘democratise’) access to the tools and solutions that will allow local public administrations to address their specific needs and also take into account the available resources.
Our ambition for CS-AWARE is to offer a targeted, user-friendly and cost-effective solution that will enable local public administrations to: dynamically monitor, forecast and assess their security risks, become aware of vulnerabilities, attacks and risks that influence their day-to-day business, and all this in an easy (‘intuitive’) and affordable way.
We feel that we shall be able to keep this promise. What we see as a challenge for us, where we shall need the increased commitment and engagement of our local public administration partners is to help build a community of local public administrations all over Europe that will facilitate technology and know-how transfer. To this aim we shall seek to build online collaboration and co-creation activities between local public administration and their associations as well as also with CERTs and CSIRTs, enabling thus an easier access to the CS-AWARE offer.
Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, a nonprofit online learning destination founded by Harvard and MIT, has said that “in the absence of a clear, no-fail approach, your best bet is to do everything you can think of to achieve your goal”.
In CS-AWARE we claim that “we see and hear what others cannot” – what we now need to urgently do is to have all others – and especially the local public administrations all over Europe, a number that exceeds 50.000 – looking to what we do and also listen to our message!
Laurentiu Vasiliu, Peracton
Adamantios Koumpis, UNI PASSAU