Cyber security is an essential element of national security


Deyana Kosdaninova, head of the Office of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, in an interview with FOCUS News Agency on the Consultative Council for National Security (CCNS)

FOCUS: What requires the convocation of Consultative Council for National Security on the topic of national policy for cyber security now?

Deyana Kosdaninova: Bulgaria, like any other European country currently faces many challenges and many of them are interrelated. Increased migration pressure, though now surrounds our country, is a challenge by itself. We already held a CCNS meeting on this topic. All institutions joined forces, draw a plan and are already working on it. The migration flow creates prerequisites for an increased risk of terrorist attacks – the direction in which number of preventive measures were taken. One of the forms of terrorism is namely cyber attacks. Structures like the so-called Islamic State also use cyber attacks as part of their terrorist activities.
Cyber attacks inflict much damage. There are many cases about which the public is not informed, but that does not mean they are not great danger. In recent months, cyber attacks have become a constant threat to the normal functioning of our daily life.
At the end of October 2015 we witnessed the largest ever cyber attack against Bulgaria. It was carried out on the day of the elections and referendum. This clearly showed what its purpose was – to discredit the idea of electronic voting, to undermine the foundations of our democratic choice to support electronic voting as a form of voting. This was an attack on us – the citizens of Bulgaria.
Only last year, more than 30 government agencies were subjected to cyber attacks including the Administration of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Council of Ministers, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, State Agency National Security. Nobody is insured.
To realize the dimensions of the danger we must realise how much of our lives depends on the smooth operation of information systems.
Cyber attacks can block our entire life. But they also quietly and imperceptibly inflict much financial damage. Only in 2015 were declared losses of Bulgarian business amounting to over BGN 10 million, caused by cyber attacks.
Therefore we must be prepared to defend ourselves against them. At the last meeting of the CCNS on 11.10.2015 we established the fact that our country has not yet created the needed system and doesn’t have enough resources to deal effectively with the growing cyber threats.
We are lagging behind the countries in the EU and NATO.
So the convene of a regular meeting of CCNS on this topic was discussed with representatives of parliamentary parties in the month of political consultations with the President. The President of the Republic expressed his commitment in his address to the National Assembly and to the Bulgarian people and the MPs.

FOCUS: What are the key messages you expect members of the CCNS to back?

Deyana Kosdaninova: First I hope that the participants in the CCNS will unite in support of the thesis that cyber security is a basic and a key element of national security, which importance will grow proportionally with the development of technology and the development of e-government. And as part of the European Union and NATO, our systems must not only be consistent, but to be an integral part of cyber security systems of the Union.
Secondly, it is important for all institutions to work together. It is therefore necessary a strategy. I want to emphasize that the recommendations of the last Consultative Council for National Security working group established by order of the Prime Minister prepared a draft national strategy for cyber security themed “Cyber sustainable Bulgaria 2020″. It was published for public discussion a couple of days ago and is available on the web.
The strategy should define the network model of information sharing, collaboration and coordination among organisations in the field of cyber security. I hope all participants in the CCNS to share the need for urgent adoption of such a strategy after extensive public consultation.

FOCUS: How the results of this CCNS will affect the development of e-government, which development the President has set as one of his main priorities?

Deyana Kosdaninova: At present everyone – government institutions, banks, etc.- cope on their own in case of cyber attacks. But they are not just independent units that operate independently. One of the priorities of Bulgaria is the development of e-government and providing more electronic services to citizens. Let us not forget that this is the most effective way to tackle corruption. But in order to have e-government, we must however, first guarantee our cyber security.
For this purpose, first of all we need to achieve interoperability in the administration’s work in the digital environment by imposing common standards.

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