COVID-19 will multiply cyberthreats warn experts

In times of the COVID-19 lockdown and with most of social and business activities moving to the Internet, cybersecurity becomes more essential than ever. For this reason, CYBERSEC Brussels 2020 has not been cancelled due to the pandemic. Instead, it will gather top leaders virtually to address the key challenges of the rapidly spreading digitisation of everything.

Fostering trust-based cooperation of like-minded cybersecurity stakeholders to create new strategies and innovative recommendations for the period of digital disruption is one of the key aims of CYBERSEC Brussels Leaders’ Foresight, a conference taking place on Tuesday 24 March. For the third year in a row – but for the first time as a digital-only event – the conference will bring together top-notch leaders and experts from the EU, NATO, national ministries, cybersecurity organisations, and the global and European tech industry.

This year’s conference will have an overarching focus on the need to address current cybersecurity and disinformation issues. Over the recent days the Internet enabled cloud services, e-learning, communication and collaboration platforms, daily lives, businesses and decision-making processes to be up and running despite the pandemic. The medical emergency locking down Europe marks a critical moment in which the digital future of the Old Continent is being rapidly shaped, and when cybersecurity becomes important like never before.

But even though digital and technological aspects are high on the new European Commission agenda, with several policy proposals being presented in recent weeks and the coronavirus outbreak, experts are expecting to see a significant acceleration of digital transformation. In that situation, the security dimension of this rapid transition should receive particular attention of decision-makers and tech actors, say organisers, justifying the need to keep the event going as planned. The fact that the entire CYBERSEC Brussels 2020 conference will be held in cyberspace proves, in their opinion, that the digital world is able to connect people across the board, enable cooperation and unrestricted debate on various challenges the world is facing these days even if it is locked down.

“A few weeks ago, the European Commission unveiled its strategy for a digital transformation of Europe that works for all. The document presents a European society powered by digital solutions that put people first and open up new opportunities. When COVID-19 is disrupting the way our communities are organised, technology helps us to continue the discussion about securing the digital DNA and shaping the European digital future. And it is fair to say that the responsibility to protect the  cyberworld is now greater than ever before,” said Izabela Albrycht, chair of the Kosciuszko Institute, a Polish think tank.  

CYBERSEC Brussels Leaders’ Foresight 2020 will feature four panel discussions on the following topics: (1) the impact of tech-related factors on the geopolitical order, (2) the use of AI in defence, (3) the role of cyberdiplomacy in creating a safer cyberspace, and (4) the strategic importance of data along with security and privacy requirements. During the CYBERSEC EU digital policy foresights format, the speakers, including EU decision-makers and NATO high-level representatives, will also discuss the most urgent aspects of cybersecurity policy-making such as the revision of the NIS Directive, the European approach towards the development of safe and liable AI, and the Digital Services Act.

This compact, one-day online conference will gather, among others, Minister Marek Zagórski (Polish Minister of Digital Affairs), Antonio Missiroli (Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, NATO), Ambassador Marina Kaljurand (MEP; Former Chair, Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace), Miapetra Kumpula-Natri  (MEP), Ambassador Robert L. Strayer (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cyber and International Communications and Information Policy, U.S. Department of State), Ambassador Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar (Ambassador at large for Cyber Diplomacy, Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Sir Julian King (Former EU Commissioner for the Security Union), Ciaran Martin (CEO, UK National Cyber Security Centre), Casper Klynge (Vice President for European Government Affairs, Microsoft).

24 March will also be a day of important premieres and announcements. The Kosciuszko Institute will present the CYBERSEC CEE 2019 Recommendations, the newest issue of the European Cybersecurity Journal (ECJ) as well as a new Programme Committee for CYBERSEC CEE 2020 which will take place on 3−5 November in Katowice, Poland. In the ECJ magazine, readers will find articles about specific requirements for cybersecurity in smart grids at the EU level, designing digital safety for smart cities, the technological sovereignty dilemma and how new technology can offer a way out.

CYBERSEC Brussels Leaders’ Foresight 2020 Main Partners: Microsoft, Samsung, PZU, Google, Amazon Web Services. Institutional Patrons: ECSO and Women4Cyber.