Digital Visegrad Group joins forces for cybersecurity

The digital industry of Visegrad Group countries will cooperate in the field of cybersecurity – an announcement was made during a discussion held by representatives of this sector from Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary at CyberSec Forum 2021 in Krynica-Zdroj, Poland. – We want to build a bridge in our region, which would connect public administration and the business in order to develop our own cybersec services and products in the region – said Michał Kanownik, President of Digital Poland Association.

The meeting, which took place as a part of the largest cybersecurity conference in Poland, featured representatives of Czech Confederation of Industry – SPCR, ICT Association of Hungary – IVSZ and IT Association of Slovakia – ITAS. Polish stakeholders were represented by Digital Poland Association. Robert Kosla, Director of the Department of Cybersecurity at the Chancellery of The Prime Minister of Poland and Agnieszka Sygitowicz, Vice-president of the Lodz Special Economic Zone also participated in the discussion panel.

Digital problem, real shortcomings
Representatives of the Visegrad Group’s digital industry argued that due to an increase of cyberthreats and more frequent attacks, joint effort for developing cybersecurity in the region is necessary. It is estimated that the number of cyberattacks in the region grew by as much as 60% compared to the period before the pandemic. – Our economies face similar challenges, and the low level of cybersecurity is certainly one of them. We do not fare well in that regard compared to our partners in Asia and America. We must improve our cybersecurity – said Gabor Matrai, Board Member of the ICT Association of Hungary (IVSZ).

In order to address that issue, the digital industry of Visegrad Group wants to run joint projects in the field of regional cybersecurity. The Digital V4 Group set up in 2019 on the initiative of Digital Poland Association will serve as a platform for this activity. – I am certain that given the universal, horizontal character of digitisation, close cooperation on developing the cybersec industry will have a profound effect on building a strong, secure, and competitive region – said Michał Kanownik, President of Digital Poland Association in Krynica-Zdroj, Poland.

What will the Digital V4 Group focus on? Education will be the primary goal. Participants of the meeting agreed that while facing modern threats, developing regional educational programmes dedicated to cybersecurity skills will be crucial. Such programmes would be available to business, consumers, and public administration clerks as well. – The knowledge of entrepreneurs, citizens, and public administration officials in countries of the Visegrad Group regarding cyberthreats and means of countering them is still insufficient – admitted Ondřej Ferdus, Director of the Digital Economy and Technology Department, Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic (SPCR). – Development of digital, secure economy will not be possible without raising essential competence and skills. Let us use the financial resources, including those available in national recovery plans, in order to improve the situation – appealed Mário Lelovský, First Vice-president of IT Association of Slovakia (ITAS).

The economic impact of this matter was highlighted by Gábor Mátrai of IVSZ. – Digitisation is a horizontal phenomenon, affecting every single sector. This means that shortcomings in understanding cybersecurity and related competence translates to the condition of the economy as a whole – he wanted.

Remedy of economic cooperation
Digital V4 Group plans to work together for boosting growth of innovative cybersec companies of the region as well. – Cybersec companies in countries of the V4 should work together closely. A reappearing idea of setting up a regional platform dedicated to entrepreneurs in Central Eastern Europe may work well in the context of bringing together this particular sector across Visegrad Group too – said Michał Kanownik of Digital Poland Association. Support in that regard was offered by Vice-president of Lodz Special Economic Zone. – We want to play our part in cooperation for developing the regional cybersecurity industry and providing an encouraging for companies working here – announced Agnieszka Sygitowicz. – We can see a growing demand for cybersec services amongst the beneficiaries of our programmes. The manufacturing industry considers cyberthreats more and more often, while designing their production processes – she added.

In the framework of Visegrad Group, we should cooperate by using our strengths. I believe there is a potential in our region to develop, for example, a competitive cryptographic algorithms industry – said Robert Kosla, Director of Cybersecurity Department at the Chancellery of The Prime Minister of Poland. He noticed that multinational projects are appreciated in the European funding programmes, allowing the regional industry to greatly benefit from this approach and apply for additional funding for growth of the sector.