.
R

esearchers are saying: “PIN codes, individual letters and whole words can be recovered with the right app,” according to a report in the June 6, 2019 Washington Post. This is an exemplar of the security threats individual citizens, corporate entities, governmental, and non-governmental organizations increasingly face nowadays.

The massive data breach of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in 2015, the hacking during the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017, the recent Baltimore City ransomware attack, and the Bangladesh Bank heist are examples of situations which require collective efforts to thwart criminals and hostile acts by state as well as non-state actors. These efforts require innovation, thinking out of the box and diplomacy because coordination as well as cooperation is needed both between countries and international organizations.

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Science Technology and Innovation Program in coordination with the University of Zurich’s Europa Institut and the Embassy of Switzerland organized a seminar on June 6, 2019—as part of the Sixth Swiss Day at the Wilson Center, which brought together experts with deep understanding of the issues as well as technological innovations such as artificial intelligence.

In his introductory remarks, Swiss Ambassador to the U.S. Martin Dahinden stated: “Cyberspace is everywhere. Despite the importance of national legislation, and national cyber defense action, international cooperation is pivotal for success, as are new approaches.”

For effective coordination and cooperation in order to combat cyber-attacks and mitigate emerging threats in an era of ever-increasing digitalization mutual understanding must exist. In this regard, Ambassador Dahinden said: “both the United States and Switzerland have a knowledge-based economy. They generate wealth primarily by creating and using knowledge, which means working with and combining data. The digitalization of the economy and society is opening up possibilities beyond the imaginable. And both our countries have the capability and the spirit to cross new frontiers, not only for themselves but for mankind.”

In his keynote address, André Kudelski, CEO The Kudelski Group emphasized that the “hackers have been working faster than the defense. That is also showing that today, generally speaking, on the European continent…People don’t realize how serious an issue this is. And if you think that about six months is needed to find that there is an intrusion, imagine all the secrets that can be stolen in an organization.”

Highlighting the disparate attention given to Cybersecurity, Dr. Kudelski said that “if you look at how people are perceiving cyber threats: In North America, it is the number one element on the agenda of the CEO. If you compare to Western Europe, it is not in the top three.” Thwarting criminal elements and malicious acts by hostile state and non-state actors will require uniform standards for the coordinated efforts to be effective. Influential voices in think tanks like the Atlantic Council and powerful corporations like Microsoft are also calling for a Geneva Convention on Cybersecurity.

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Science Technology and Innovation Program in coordination with the University of Zurich’s Europa Institut and the Embassy of Switzerland organized a seminar on June 6, 2019—as part of the Sixth Swiss Day at the Wilson Center, which brought together experts with deep understanding of the issues as well as technological innovations such as artificial intelligence.

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Science Technology and Innovation Program in coordination with the University of Zurich’s Europa Institut and the Embassy of Switzerland organized a seminar on June 6, 2019—as part of the Sixth Swiss Day at the Wilson Center, which brought together experts with deep understanding of the issues as well as technological innovations such as artificial intelligence.

Providing out of the box thinking, Evan Wolff, Wilson Center Global Fellow and Partner, Crowell & Moring suggested adopting the “special teams” approach, as used in American football, which applies both defensive and offensive techniques to achieve Cybersecurity. In his opinion one of the weaknesses is that “we have no special teams when it comes to cyber.” Wolff added that “what we’re moving towards is an offense and defense where we work collectively, and in a much more fluid movement.” This is important because cybercrime has no borders.

Paige Adams, Group Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for Zurich Insurance Group emphasized the importance of basic hygiene from a cybersecurity perspective to minimize risk, which can be mitigated but not always eliminated. He added that “If you have a CISO, it’s been shown that the cost per record of a data breach is decreased by about $4 per record on average, at least in the U.S. But those things add up.”

Circling back on Ambassador Dahinden’s point that digitalization is opening up new opportunities, Adams talked about the growing demand for Cybersecurity professionals. He thought that the traditional four-year college degree route may not be providing the talent needed. The cyber skills gap is significant with an estimated three million jobs deficit.

In the context of the cyber skills gap, Adams mentioned the Swiss based apprenticeship model used by Zurich Insurance in training cybersecurity professionals who have the aptitude. Under this program, apprentices spend about sixty percent of the time on-the-job-training (OJT) and forty percent of the time in formal classroom training. According to Adams this program is “exceeding all expectations.” He further said that the added benefit of the apprenticeship program is that the apprentices are not held down by the burden of school debt. Cybersecurity skills would create “new collar jobs” for the workforce needed for collective cybersecurity defense in these challenging times.

About
C Naseer Ahmad
:
C. Naseer Ahmad is a contributor to Diplomatic Courier.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.