Address by State Secretary of the Ministry of foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia Andrejs Pildegovičs at Baltic Cyber Defence Workshop “Whole-of-Government Cyber Strategy & Policy Development”
Dear Excellences, Professor Phil Lark, Cyber Security course director at the George C Marshall Centre for European Security Studies, distinguished guests and speakers!
It is a great pleasure to welcome cyber security and defence experts in Riga from such a wide range of institutions and countries, including from the US, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Ukraine, and Latvia.
I would like to say special thanks to the George C. Marshall European Centre for Security Studies for organising this event on a topic so important to all of us from so many dimensions.
Today, everything has become digitally interconnected. We have walked the line from the age of Internet-of-things to the Internet-of-everything.
Everything ranging from our computers and smartphones to vehicles, fridges, TVs and governmental and military networks, and even nuclear power plants and electricity grids are connected to the Internet. Our lives have become easier; our economies – richer; our people and nations – more interconnected and accessible; and yet we have also become more vulnerable.
Finding the right solutions for developing our cyber environment more resilient is more important than ever.
Take for example Latvia’s example. For years, Latvia has been ranked among Top 10 and even Top 5 states with the fastest average Internet speed in the world. Over 72 % of Latvians are using Internet daily for online banking, reading newspapers online and social networking.
Yet, cyber security and defence is inseparable from wider cyber issues, such as promotion of freedoms, norms, rules, international law and good governance online the same way we do offline.
Therefore, developing strategies based on whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach is of vital importance. Responsibility over the digital domain belongs not to a single governmental institution, but to all of them. Even more, it is our shared responsibility of entire society.
Let me briefly share Latvia’s experience and expertise on national, regional and global level regarding development of resilient cyber-ecosystem.
Firstly, cyber security starts with getting our own homework done. Nationally, over the last couple of years Latvia has been actively focussing on cyber-security capacity building and increasing resilience of the critical information infrastructure.
Latvia has a fully functioning national Information Technology Security Incident Response Institution(CERT.LV); National IT Security Council; and National Legislation on IT Security.
In January 2014, Latvia adopted its first national Cyber Security Strategy (for a period from 2014 to 2018), hence laying down strategic priorities for the national cyber security policy, followed on by an Action Plan on its implementation.
In implementation of the Strategy and Action plan Latvia has demonstrated a successful application of a whole-of-government approach, involving majority of governmental institutions in strengthening national resilience to threats stemming from the digital domain.
Currently, Latvia is ranked as the 7th most secure country according to the Global Cyber Security Index.
Secondly, Latvia has an extensive experience in various regional cooperation formats and has developed extensive experience in promoting values and norms, including in the cyber domain, along with like-minded countries.
In the first half of 2015, during its first Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Latvia set “Digital Europe” as one of three main priority areas, emphasizing the significance of trust and security in digital domain.
Over just six months Latvia achieved several tangible results. Due to Latvia’s efforts, both the European Council and the EU Council decided to develop an EU-wide framework for countering the hybrid threats, including in the cyber domain, and to mobilise all necessary instruments in this regard.
Similarly, under Latvia’s leadership significant progress was achieved in drafting the Network Information Security (NIS) directive, and reaching an agreement with the European Parliament. We also promoted the policy of responsible disclosure of cyber incidents and launched together with our closest partners the Cyber Hygiene initiative.
This year, in its capacity of the Presidency at the Baltic Assembly and the Baltic Council of Ministers, as well as the coordinator for Baltic and Nordic cooperation in the Nordic-Baltic-Eight format, Latvia has put forward strengthening resilience to hybrid threats and development of greater cyber security as the main priorities.
Cyber security and defence will take an important role in run-up to the NATO Warsaw Summit. Cyber-attacks empower unfriendly individuals, terrorists and radicals and even states testing our resilience to hybrid attacks. Therefore, we need to think how we respond to it collectively. (Recently (at its foreign ministerial last December) that NATO agreed Article V collective defence guarantees should fully apply to hybrid (including cyber) attacks.
Similarly, the European Union should step up its efforts in developing resilience cyber-attacks, both its own and of its partners. In this regard, we believe that hybrid threats and security need to be reflected in the new EU Global Strategy on foreign and security policy.
Greater synergies and cooperation between NATO and the EU should be brought to the next level on countering hybrid threats, strengthening cyber security, strategic communications, civil-military cooperation and rising awareness of threats.
Finally, Latvia has been actively contributing to different global multi-stakeholder initiatives on global level.
In the second semester of 2015, Latvia successfully fulfilled its role of a co-facilitator of intergovernmental negotiations on the outcome of the overall review by UN General Assembly of the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit of Information Society (WSIS+10). Ambassador Baiba Braže will elaborate more on these processes later on today.
Likewise, Latvia has actively contributed to the so called “London process” since its establishment and has shared its expertise and experience in global conferences on cyber space. Latvia is committed to keeping the Internet open, free and secure.
In 2015, Latvia joined the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE), a platform which we expect to use for further promotion of responsible disclosure policy that is one of areas Latvia can share its experience.
Most recently, Latvia has put forward its candidacy for member state of the UN GGE (United Nations Group of Governmental Experts) on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security for the period of 2016-2017. Our experience and leadership would help to develop even better set of rules for responsible state behaviour in the digital domain.
Let me wish you all very fruitful discussion for the next two days.