Broadly, the focus was on how to secure the cyberspace, protecting the digital services and infrastructures that nations and citizens have come to depend upon, implementing the right tools to protect data, “a strategic asset” as put it Juri Luik, Estonia’s Minister of Defence who came to testify how his country had been the first in Europe to suffer a full-out cyberattack from its Russian neighbour.
“Unlike in the past, the defence sector depends on the civilian sector that is driving the technology, innovation is led by the private sector and the state has to adjust to that. All states shall invest in cybersecurity as national borders do not exist in the cyberspace where everything is merged into one battlefield”, Luik said during a plenary session titled “Innovation and Cybersecurity”.
“It is not just a technical matter for tech junkies, but it impacts politics too” he added, mentioning last year’s European-level cyber defence exercises focusing on situational awareness, crisis response mechanisms and strategic communication.
Florence Parly, France’s Minister of the Armed Forces joined Luik on stage to highlight the necessary cooperation between all the European states on cybersecurity. “Everything is connected, the IoT collects data, analyse it and with this hyperconnectivity, all our society and e-lifestyle is threatened by invisible untraceable enemies” Parly said. “The digital space is structuring the battlefield, at home and abroad, and if we don’t innovate and invest in research for cybersecurity, others will do it in our place. But I won’t let this happen”, she added before discussing the need for reorganizing Europe’s numerical resilience, to better anticipate threats, protect our networks and fight back when necessary.
As cyber-sovereignty as become a major stake, the French Minister of the Armed Forces unveiled plans for the French army to invest 1.6 billion Euros for cyber-defence between 2019 and 2015, increasing the ranks of its cyber-soldiers from 3,000 today to 4,000 by 2025. She also announced the creation of a European kernel of cyber-defence to share incoming threats in real time.
A plethora of encryption and network traffic monitoring solutions were on display, but among the 350 exhibitors were also companies offering cyber security testing environments and so-called ethical hackers ready to safely hack into your system and disclose your network’s vulnerabilities.