International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Geneva, Switzerland

International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Geneva, Switzerland

Cyber-security is the biggest challenge individuals, companies and States face daily. Old and new threats and dangers are constantly growing and almost everyone, everywhere, is a potential target. In this frame, we see an explosion of meetings, conferences and congresses focused on this issue, at a frequency never reached before: in the world’s most important capitals, there is barely a week without one or even more cyber-security events.

If the multiplication factor benefits, without any doubt, to the general consciousness of the existing threats, it also creates a “saturation” effect where the audience, the speakers, the institutions and the companies have to make a dramatic choice on the events to attend or not.

In my capacity of Cyber-security Coordinator within the International Telecommunication Union, I consider this event, born in September 2013and continuously growing, a very good example of good practices on public-private dialogue platform, , within the EU region

In 2014, ITU committed to provide not only technical but also financial assistance, due to the potential benefits that this initiative can bring to the region, and devoted funds to bring to world class analysts, mainly from the neighbouring countries, allowing the congress to grow macro-regional.

The 2014 edition gathered speakers and participants from 28 countries,. Moreover, it gave birth to several very interesting initiatives, implemented during the first semester of this year and reaching an apex by becoming most adequate frame for the 2015 edition: the non-technical public and private decision-makers awareness training, the general public awareness raising and, finally, the youth awareness course, actions which are among the core focuses of the ITU.

First, even if still very young, the congress proved to grow with regular pace into one of the key events for the Central and Southern European area, as we can observe by the coming back, for the second or even the third time, of a majority of the most relevant public and private speakers.

Secondly, I would like to stress the commitment shown and recognize the work done by the NGO Swiss Webacademy, with the constant and effective support to the Sibiu County Council, to achieve and publish in a few months the full translation for the Romanian schools, teachers and parents, of four of the most relevant publications made by Saferinternet Poland, another NGO which the ITU considers as an example of Good Practices within the EU.

The strategy behind translating  and adapting materials made in a neighbouring country is in line with the ITU approach in avoiding duplication of efforts but rather build on what is already existing and add value in aggregating good practises toward a comprehensive set of material, easy to use.

At the same time, Swiss Webacademy offered to Saferinternet Poland, with the help of the ITU, the exhibition “Social Media Victims and Heroes, from Hieroglyphs to Facebook“, translated into Polish and to be on show at the Warsaw congress on Child Safety on the net, also supported by the ITU.

Last but not least, Swiss Webacademy together with Agora Group launched the 1st European free quarterly magazine dedicated to awareness provided into the reader’s language and not in English, Cybersecurity Trends. Gathering articles from State and Private specialists, nice to read yet with very serious contents, is an achievement we hope to be exported and adapted as soon as possible in other countries.

Finally, the largest public awareness day recently proposed in Central Europe (with three shows gathering 1400 schoolchildren and 700 adults), which will de facto constitute the “opening” of the congress is an initiative we salute. The ITU is very glad to take part of it, together with the highest Romanian concerned Institutions, by delivering simple and hopefully useful messages to the public in addition to all demos and shows which will generate a dynamic and attractive show with huge impact for the general public awareness.

The ITU string gratitude goes first to the Congress partners, the Romanian Intelligence Service’s CYBERINT Centre and the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police (IGPR), who worked extensively the past months together with the organizers to be sure every Romanian state institution implied in this complex problematic will be represented at Sibiu at the highest level.

I would also like to thank the Swiss Embassy in Romania for its constant patronage of the initiative, honoured by the presence of H.E. Jean-Hubert Lebet, a diplomatic premise of neutrality and objectivity for the debates.

The presence of all highly ranked Romanian officials, showing by their presence the openness of the highest levels of the State to collaborate actively with the private sector in this vital topic, coupled with the massive presence of several of the best Romanian IT companies, is a clear signal that Romania is very well positioned to contribute to the dialogue on global collaboration on cyber-security and support the existing UN’s efforts in this direction.

Moreover, I express my deep gratitude to the Sibiu County Council and to the Sibiu “Lucian Blaga” University for their outstanding support to the event, in logistics, mediatisation, hospitality and generosity. I can witness it is not common to see local administrations and universities to be so active in helping – in facts and not in words – major cyber-security initiatives.

Finally Swiss Webacademy, continues to prove how a very small and motivated team can face the yearly challenge of organizing such an amazing meeting, and even find synergies to make the abovementioned supplementary activities.

Against one of the most important dangers for our society, civil society prove to be a flexible, dynamic and hence successful mechanism to raise awareness and promote dialogue

I wish you a very pleasant and productive meeting.

Marco Obiso
International Telecommunication Union (ITU),  Geneva, Switzerland