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Cybersecurity skills in times of war: EU strategy

Youth IGF
Cybersecurity skills in times of war: EU strategy
By Youth IGF • Issue #14 • View online
At the end of 2020, the European Commission presented a new EU Cybersecurity Strategy to bolster Europe’s collective resilience against cyber threats. In May 2022, the Council and the EU Parliament reached an agreement on the NIS2 Directive, which seeks to replace previous legislation and achieve a high common level of cybersecurity across the EU member states. The need for more stringent cybersecurity policies became evident after the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine. The issue of cyber skills in particular is now also regarded from the perspective of their application in wartime. Is it possible that cybersecurity skills have become a strategic tool in times of conflict?

War. Credit: Photo by Daniel Stuben on Unsplash
War. Credit: Photo by Daniel Stuben on Unsplash
Cyber skills have already been used in attacks with the purpose of influencing political events.
Cyberattacks are not only launched by criminals aiming to gain profit – according to Jean-Marc Van Gyseghem, Research Director at the Namur University, Cybersecurity and cybersecurity skills have become tools able to change democracies and undermine the very foundations of our societies.
Jean-Marc Van Gyseghem, Research Director, Crids-University of Namur and Attorney at law (Bar of Brussels) at the European Cyberseсurity Skills Summit Week
Jean-Marc Van Gyseghem, Research Director, Crids-University of Namur and Attorney at law (Bar of Brussels) at the European Cyberseсurity Skills Summit Week
However, Member of the European Parliament Marina Kaljurand stresses that while cyber skills can be a weapon against democracy, “they can also be a driving force in building up digital societies".
The former Estonian foreign minister was speaking at the European Cybersecurity Skills Summit Week 2022, organized by the Youth IGF.
Marina Kaljurand, Member of the European Parliament, Former Estonian Foreign Affairs Minister at the European Cyberseсurity Skills Summit Week
Marina Kaljurand, Member of the European Parliament, Former Estonian Foreign Affairs Minister at the European Cyberseсurity Skills Summit Week
How should the EU respond? First comes the question of responsibility: should it lie with sovereign governments or the EU institutions? According to Kaljurand, governments should be responsible for their own cybersecurity protection and preparedness. There should be compulsory state control over education in this sphere, namely the introduction of cyber skills to national curricula and the training of professionals in the field.
At the same time, the EU can play a crucial role in eliminating the skills gaps that currently exist between states within the bloc. This could bring all member states together and introduce cyber skills standards that would apply to each and every country. Finally, we may see a kind of merging of the principles of sovereignty and cooperation where Europe’s cybersecurity skills strategy is concerned.
EU. Credit: Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash
EU. Credit: Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash
The EU has already taken significant steps in this direction by introducing a number of laws and regulations. However, their implementation is the real challenge ahead.
“We do have good laws in place, but we are not implementing them,” said Marina Kaljurand.
Regulations on cybersecurity have to be applied in a comprehensive and equal manner across the union. Another important point is the application of already existing legislation in times of war. According to Jean-Marc Van Gyseghem of Namur University, we need to ensure that the NIS2 Directive and other laws are resistant to new cybersecurity challenges.
Will we see changes concerning cybersecurity skills and their assessment in the radically different reality the world now faces? And, most importantly, will human capital in cybersecurity evolve into a real instrument of war?
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