Head of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu stated on Thursday that the likelihood of a cyberattack of catastrophic proportions targeting Romania remains low, but stressed that dependence on technology exposes society to cyberattacks of low or moderate severity.
“Although today the likelihood of a cyberattack targeting Romania remains low, our society’s increasing dependence on technology, systemic inter-dependence for various sectors of the critical infrastructure create the same vulnerabilities in this area for all developed countries, they expose the entire society to cyberattacks of reduced or moderate range, but which are carried out very frequently and whose overall costs can have a serious effect on national security interests, regardless of whether we are talking about protecting public institutions, or about the competitiveness of local private economic players on the global market,” Ungureanu told the debate “Cybersecurity – from protecting the individual to national security,” organized at the Parliament by the European Affairs Committee in partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu pointed out that the internet has become indispensable in people’s everyday life, and the progress of information technology has irreversibly transformed society.
“Dependence on technology, as any dependence, is perceived by hostile actors as a vulnerability of developed societies, which can easily be exploited in the absence of awareness by individuals of risks present in the digital environment,” Ungureanu explained.
He argued that the current dynamics of the cyberspace, both in terms of technological innovation, and of the geographical diversity of suppliers of equipment does not allow for cyberthreats to be completely eliminated, but does allow one to manage it by means of raising awareness of all social actors on the diverse ways in which cyberattacks can materialize, by permanently updating defense instruments by installing strong applications meant to prevent the remote unauthorized access of third parties to equipment and by increasing awareness in regards to suppliers of services.
The SIE head pointed to the global increase in the frequency, intensity, complexity and severity of cyberattacks at the same time with the targets’ diversification.
Dutch Ambassador: Romania has excellent reputation in IT and cyber expertise
Dutch Ambassador to Romania Stella Ronner Grubacic stated on Thursday that Romania has an excellent reputation in the IT and cyber expertise, and online security should be taken seriously before the world faces a “cyber 9/11.”
“We are very happy and grateful that Romania us an active partner is the issue of cyber security, the ambassador said. Romania has an excellent reputation in the IT and cyber security sectors, which offers a solid ground for bilateral cooperation”, she told the debate on cyber security at the Palace of Parliament.
The Dutch diplomat also pointed out that the world is becoming increasingly dependent on an inter-connected online space in order to communicate, innovate and develop.
Grubacic added that, although the “free, open and safe” internet has become an invaluable advantage for economic, social and cultural development, there are terrorist groups that actively seek to develop their cyber capacities.
What should worry us is that many of these cyber operations seem to be sponsored by certain states, at the very least, if not even led by these states, Grubacic warned.
Speaker Zgonea: There is no miraculous recipe to eliminate risks of cyber incidents
Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Valeriu Zgonea said Thursday that there is no miraculous recipe to eliminate the risks of cyber incidents, adding that solutions are needed in such cases.
“In the complex environment in which we are living today, there is no miracle recipe to eliminate possible risks facing us. (…) It is our duty to identify viable solutions to prevent such situations in legislative, institutional and organisational terms, by improving the use of the potentials of the information and communication technology, as well as by boosting innovation, economic growth and national progress. Inadequate responses to cyber incidents may lead to a loss of consumer confidence, material damage of services as well as endangered national security,” Zgonea told the debate on cybersecurity from individual protection to national security, organised on Thursday at the Parliament House.
He added that cybersecurity is an important and complex matter.
“Each minute there are cyber-attacks at communications systems. This is a reality we all have to face, counter and prevent,” said Zgonea.
He added that the Internet influences life, but it also creates vulnerabilities and insecurity for users.
“The public bodies are in a delicate situation as they cannot always protect everything, but those platforms are vital,” said Zgonea, adding that the damage incurred by cyber spying becomes increasingly wider.
He also said ensuring cybersecurity entails mandatory efforts.
“It is one of the most delicate matters that I have been saying for 15 years: we are unable to assess actions plans and strategies at their time so that we may see midway if we are on the right track in terms of implementing the strategy for a given time. We have to do that openly, effectively and efficiently like any other assessment,” added Zgonea.
In her turn, Chairperson of the Committee on European Affairs Ana Birchall underscored the need for a cybersecurity law.
“I believe that by passing such a law, Romania would send strong signals of connection to the world realities, proving that it is fully aware that an efficient approach of cyberspace challenges and opportunities requires harmonisation with the similar approaches of other European countries,” said Birchall.
The conclusions of the debate, said Birchall, will be presented to the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union with a request for cybersecurity to stay a priority on the European Union’s agenda.