CYBER-SECURITY SPECIAL SECTION
“We need a balanced view, one that recognises there is a cyber-threat, but neither under-estimates nor over-hypes the problem”
Cyber-space is constantly evolving in tandem with technological progress, a fact that offers great opportunities for developments in the scientific, social, economic and industrial spheres. But this state of flux also creates complications. It means, for example, that the “domain” of cyber-space defies clear definition, despite being part of daily life in most sectors of modern society, including the military.
It also means it has not been possible to bring international discipline to its legitimate uses, despite initiatives in NATO, the EU and the UN. These constant changes mean that many of the threats and vulnerabilities posed by potential cyber-attacks remain unknown.
With digital technology now so deeply embedded in modern society, there are potentially catastrophic scenarios for cyber-attacks. On the other hand, no electronic, communications, information or cyber-system can be made totally safe because of the continual development in the nature of the threat. What is therefore needed is a balanced view that recognises there is a cyber-threat, but neither under-estimates nor over-hypes the problem.
At the same time, we have to be vigilant. The more a society depends on cyber-space, the more it should try to stay up-to-date with technological developments, and be adequately prepared to face any potential threat, either to prevent or at least to mitigate its possible consequences. We have to analyse current threats, assess capabilities and defensive measures, and find ways, if possible, to reduce or eliminate vulnerabilities.
Is this achievable? Surely it is, but it will require time, human and financial resources and a comprehensive approach, by which I mean a joint, integrated effort by all sectors of society, including civilian, military, industrial and academic, both nationally and internationally.
Getting ready to face these challenges is a must for all states, not only to safeguard their national and international interests but also to give their societies free and safe access to this “global common”. The Italian defence sector is already playing its part, supporting national policies and contributing to the main international efforts.
The author is Italy's Defence Minister.