On December 19th, the Cybersecurity Day 2017 took place at the Swiss Tech Convention Center in Lausanne with the presence of Federal Councilor and Head of the Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sports Guy Parmelin.

A new trinity against cyber-attacks

The take-home message of the day was already announced by National Council and moderator of the event Fathi Derder in his opening remarks: collaboration between science, jurisdiction and politics is needed to create awareness for Cybersecurity in Switzerland.

The need of collaboration of this cyber-trinity was also supported by EPFL President Martin Vetterli, who pointed out that up to this day there is no supervising institution in the digital tsunami that is coming over us. He stressed that “Data is the new fuel” and that exchange between different actors is needed in this new dematerialized world. In reaction of this lacking exchange Vetterli further announced the establishment of a new ‘Center of Digital Trust’ at EPFL, which will help anchor the trust in digitization as well as ride the digital tsunami wave confidently.

Establishment of a Federal Center of Competence for Cybersecurity

Federal Councilor Guy Parmelin, patron of the Day, informed the 500 attending guests about the federal action plan for cybersecurity which foresees the establishment of a ‘Federal Center of Competence for Cybersecurity’ in order to centralize the different cyber-defense competences which are now distributed across the different federal departments.

Nonetheless, the budget reality for the establishment of such a center is harsh: 2% of the department’s total budget – ca. CHF 100 Mio. are allocated for cyber-defense. Parmelin further emphasized on the strong necessity of employing young and specialized computer science alumni for the center as well as for the Swiss army. He stressed the importance of awareness creation and mobilization for this undertaking, given the fact that these young graduates would earn much more in the private sector than working for the state.

As a last important point, Parmelin pointed out that not only in the area of training and recruitment of qualified personnel an awareness campaign is necessary – also the small and medium enterprises (SME’s), the backbone of the Swiss economy, have to understand that they will not be spared of cyber-attacks only because of their apparent small size but that cyber-attacks pose an imminent danger.

Check out here the interview with Guy Parmelin after his speech.

A Swiss DARPA?

The consequent speeches of Nuria Gorrite, Vaud State Coucillor, André Kudelski, Nagra Kudelski Group, Curtis W.Dukes, EPV & ex-NSA, Jean-Pierre Hubaux, EPFL, Adrian Lobsiger, Swiss data protection and information commissioner, Jovan Kurbalija, College of Europe and Jacques de Werra, University of Geneva all coincided on the need of a national multi-dimensions strategy for cyber-security including the Swiss ‘Key ingredients’ of:

  1. Our academic super power
  2. Our strong private sector
  3. Our militia army

André Kudelski especially pointed out that Switzerland has all the ingredients to successfully hande the different threats coming from the cyber-space but that we miss a structure to fund innovation in this area. He further emphasized on the possibility of a Swiss DARPA, the American Research Unit ‘Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency’, which was responsible for the development of Arpanet as well as the GPS.

Fostering exchange & discussion

Following Guy Parmelin’s invitation to jointly search for constructive solutions on how to tackle the threats coming from cyber, the invited guests and speakers took part in three interactive workshops on following topics:

  1. Cybersecurity and companies: risks and technical solutions
  2. Towards a Swiss DARPA
  3. Cybersecurity and the law: what legal protections and what legal liabilities?

The key messages and actions to be taken out of these workshops will be soon presented in a paper which will constitute an essential part of the Digital Action Plan for Switzerland.

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Author Lara Fritschi

Project Lead Startup Enablement

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