The Cyprus Story: Their Preparation Against Cyber Attacks

Digital Media Security Against Corporate Cybersecurity Culture

Last Dec 22, 2018, we have reported here in the nastly leak of the European Union COREU network that contains diplomatic cables. With that news, Cyprus, an island nation in the Mediterranean is making their own preparations and improvements in their cybersecurity readiness. With the EU info leak, Cyprus has a very visible example of a powerful regional block that falls for the campaigns of the cybercriminals. As cybercrime is considered a transnational crime, it is imperative for all countries surrounding the EU to also prepare on their own, instead of just keeping itself exposed to future cyber attacks.

The head agency of Cyprus that takes care of its cybersecurity infrastructure is the Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT). With the cooperation of Vasilliki Anastasiadou, Cyprus’ Minister of Transport and Communications, the coordination of CSIRT with external teams of the EU, Italy, UK, Belgium, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Israel, France, Spain, and Serbia when it comes to cybersecurity defense knowledge sharing has been very fruitful since 2013.

Of course, in terms of cyber attacks, it is not always the public sector that is being exposed. The private sector is also exposed equally, hence CSIRT is conducting collaboration meetings with industries and businesses in the country in order to help assess the weaknesses of each sector. Cyprus, like the rest of the world, is a social media-rich country, with Facebook usage and accessibility in full swing for at least a decade. Facebook usage has also grown a lot in the country for the last 5 years, as more and more people sell their products and services through Facebook and other social media platforms.

As of this writing, Cyprus is not yet in the headlines of being at the receiving end of a massive virus, spam or phishing campaigns from cybercriminals. But common issues such as online scams, malware infection on some work machines and trojan horse infiltration occur regularly on isolated incidents. Being an island nation, the global trade routes pass-through Cyprus. With the largest shipping company, Maersk has regular shipments to Cyprus on a daily basis. Maersk became a victim of a huge malware infection on June 2017, with the cost of the damage against its brand pegged at $300 million. It is only now that the company is slowly but surely recovering from the incident.

“A worst-case scenario might involve intrusion that involves a cascade failure of a vessel carrying hazardous or polluting material, or possibly sustained disruption of networked navigational systems that could have an industry wide impact. We oversee the content and make sure it is approved and taught in the prescribed way. There are a lot of legal issues, such as what constitutes evidence (of cyber-crime), that will be resolved with experience, and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) will need to get more involved,” said Natasa Pilides, Cyprus Deputy Shipping Minister.

With this initiative of Cyprus, it is just prudent for other countries in the Mediterranean and Europe to work their way of improving their cybersecurity defense capability. Of course, this will require constant funding, as cybercriminals have deep pockets. It is a constant struggle between the antimalware industry and the virus authors to outdo and outwit one another. There is no better time to improve cybersecurity without willing to fund the initiatives.


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