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Bled Cybersecurity Conference

As part of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Government Information Security Office, in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Administration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, organised a cybersecurity conference in Bled on 3 September 2021, which was held in a hybrid form.

The conference with prominent speakers was divided in six panels with an audience of about 300 participants. Majority of them attended in a physical form, while some participated also on-line. The conference also gathered the European Union cybersecurity community since the EU Cyber Attaches, EU Cyber Ambassadors, EU Cyber Directors and EU NIS Cooperation Group all held simultaneous meetings on the margin of the conference. 

Slovenian Presidency slogan is "Together. Resilient. Europe.", which also includes cybersecurity as one of the important priorities of Slovenian Presidency.

In Panel 1 which was moderated by Dr Uroš Svete, Acting Director of the Slovenian Government Information Security Office, the speakers discussed about the importance and modalities of increasing cybersecurity resilience of our economies and societies. Mr Arne Schönbohm, President of the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), Mr David van Weel, Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges of  NATO, Mr Gert Auväärt, Director of Cyber Security and Deputy DG at the Information system Authority of Estonia and Ms Klara Jordan, Chief Public Policy Officer of the Cyber Peace Institute shared their experiences related to cybersecurity protection of critical infrastructure, international cooperation and partnership, areas on which Europe should focus its investments in the future and best practices to prevent, discourage, deter and respond to cyber threats.

Panel 2 was moderated by Ms Staša Novak, Slovenian Counsellor for Cyber Issues to EU and NATO. Mr Juhan Lepassaar, Executive Director of ENISA was joined by Mr Guillaume Poupard, Director General of the French National Cybersecurity Agency (ANSSI), Mr Karel Řehka, Director of the Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NÚKIB), Ms Lorena Boix, Director for Digital Society, Trust and Cybersecurity at the DG CONNECT, European Commission and Mr Rogier Holla, Deputy Head of CERT EU discussed the cyber crisis management framework in the EU, required efforts of all relevant stakeholders – Member States, EU institutions, bodies, and agencies, as well as the needed relations with industry and partners, including international Organisations, especially NATO. They reflected on the current state of play and challenges in the European cybersecurity crisis management architecture, including the Joint Cyber Unit.

In Panel 3 which was prepared in cooperation with the EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) and moderated by Dr Gustav Lindstrom, Director of EUISS, the speakers debated about the situation in cybersecurity in the Western Balkans, the region of strategic importance for the EU. Bringing Western Balkans closer to the European cyber ecosystem and enhancing their cyber capacities is an important element for digital development and a contribution to the global stability in cyber space. Discussion focused on key digital transition priorities and challenges in the region, opportunities when it comes to promotion of the cybersecurity, cooperation between the private and the public sectors in the field of supply chain security and standardisation, upcoming priorities and plans of the EU cyber resilience cooperation with the region and the cybercrime challenges. The panellists included Ms Jutta Pomoell-Segurola, Head of Sector Rule of Law, Security, Migration and Reconciliation, Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission, Ms Vilma Tomco, General Director of the National Authority for Electronic Certification and Cyber Security (NAECCS) from Albania, Ms Rachel Chetham, Head of Security and Countering Serious Organised Crime at FCDO Western Balkans Department of the United Kingdom, Mr Kemal Bajramović, Head of Experimentation at the Accelerator Lab and UNDP Digital Advocate as well as Ms Maja Lakušić, Advisor for Cyber Security Promotion at the Serbian Regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Services, SRB-CERT.

In Panel 4 which was moderated by the Ambassador Mr Tadej Rupel, National Coordinator for External Aspects of Digitalisation, AI & Cybersecurity at the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, discussed different aspects of cyber diplomacy. Ms Joanneke Balfoort, Director Security and Defence Policy at EEAS, Ms Michele Markoff, Deputy Coordinator for Cyber Issues at the United States Department of State, Ambassador Mr Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota, Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) from Brazil, Ambassador Ms Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar, Director General for Cyber Diplomacy Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia and Ambassador Ms Alena Kupchyna, OSCE Co-ordinator of Activities to Address Transnational Threats participated in this debate, which shed a light on the role of the EU at the global level in cyber diplomacy and the importance of partnerships with like-minded and other states, as well as international organisations, especially NATO. They also discussed how the EU institutions adjust to operational cyber diplomacy, lessons learned from the UNGGE and the OEWG, furthermore what are the main complexities in designing response frameworks to malicious cyber activities and if transatlantic cyber diplomacy can help in overcoming such complexities. Speakers also touched upon about using cyber diplomacy for a responsible cyberspace behaviour between states and non-state actors, whether sanctions or public attribution are successful tools of cyber diplomacy, the role of multilateralism in cyber diplomacy and the applicability of international law in cyberspace.

Panel 5 was prepared in cooperation with the Kosciuszko Institute and moderated by Dr Luigi Rebuffi, Secretary General of the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO), speakers represented Slovenian and Polish companies from telecom sector and suppliers of electronic components and devices. Discussion evolved about the private sector’s perspective on the new cybersecurity landscape and included Mr Tomasz Widomski, Member of Supervisory Board of ELPROMA from Poland, Mr Matjaž Breskvar, Director of Slovenian company Beyond Semiconductor, Dr Rok Prešeren, Director of ICT and Network Services at Telekom Slovenije, d. d. and Mr Cezary Albrecht, CLO of T-Mobile. They exchanged ideas on best approaches for strengthening security of ICT products, IoT and smart devices as well as the needed developments and investments.

In Panel 6, which was moderated by Ms Liga Rozentale, Senior Director for Digital Peace at Microsoft, participants debated on the multistakeholder approach to protecting critical infrastructure from cyberattacks. Ms Annalaura Gallo of Cybersecurity Tech Accord, Mr Evangelos Ouzounis, Head of Policy Development and Implementation Unit at ENISA, Mr Gorazd Božič, Head of SI-CERT and Dr Andraž Kastelic, Lead Cyber Stability Researcher at UNIDIR shed a light on threats, regulation and international law in protecting critical infrastructure in power grid, water, healthcare and finance sectors. They highlighted the importance of multistakeholder engagement which brings together different perspectives to identify good practices.

The conference was concluded by Mr Nitin Natarajan, Deputy Director at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) from USA and Dr Stanislav Raščan, Slovenian Deputy Foreign Minister. They stressed that in cybersecurity, cooperation and a multi-stakeholder approach is key, especially since cyberspace has become an area of strategic competition and geopolitical tensions, which requires a comprehensive and well-coordinated approach.