The third edition of the Swiss Cyber Security Days (SCSD) closed today on a highly encouraging note, having brought more than 1,800 people together live online and created thousands of interactions between experts or service providers and participants. The main elements of the programme were translated with simultaneous interpretation into French, English and/or German – a digital undertaking that was in itself a major event! And the lectures will now remain accessible to the public throughout the year on the “SCSD 365” platform. It emerged from the presentations and round tables that, while Switzerland is on track, it has some catching up to do when it comes to engineer training and to real innovation. Artificial intelligence offers significant potential in this regard.
The third edition of Switzerland’s leading cyber security event, Swiss Cyber Security Days (SCSD), brought together key decision makers and experts on domestic and international cyber security for two days on Wednesday 10 and Thursday 11 March. Due to the pandemic, the event took place online this year. The event was orchestrated from the control center at the Forum Fribourg. More than 1,800 participants were connected live during the two days. In addition, those responsible expect several hundred interested parties to view the presentations offline during the course of the year, as the platform will remain open to the public until the end of the year.
The organisation committee is pleased with the event overall, and with the quality of the individual contributions. Event director Béat Kunz notes that “with things evolving so quickly in the cyber security world, it was important for this edition to be able to take place. As pointed out by several of the speakers, there is a need for the cyber community in Switzerland to join forces. People have to get to know each other for cooperation to take place, and the SCSD provide this platform for exchange.”
The programme comprised more than 70 lectures, keynote speeches, panel discussions, best practice presentations and round tables. Nicolas Mayencourt, head of the programming committee, sums up the evolution of the issues addressed from the first edition in 2019 to today: “Cyber security is now a primary concern for those responsible for IT systems. In three years, we have moved from an initial stage of awareness-raising to systematic prevention programmes.”
The first day focused on the essential questions of global security for Switzerland. It was pointed out that our companies and administrations face the threat of cyber crime on a daily basis. At the opening on 10 March, National Councillor Doris Fiala, President of the Swiss Cyber Security Days, and Daniel Berger, President of Cyber Resilience, the company responsible for the organisation of the event, underlined the fact that the increase in the number of infrastructures and the volumes of data being transferred, which have been further accelerated by the pandemic, are leading to ever-greater vulnerabilities.
Martin Vetterli, President of EPFL, opened the debate on the shortage of cybersecurity professionals in Switzerland. He agreed with Mark Peter of the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland and Yves Flückiger, Rector of the University of Geneva and President of swissuniversities , that the academic skills exist to train a new generation of computer scientists but that there is a lack of awareness of the urgency of the situation.
The highlights of the first day of the event included the lecture by Thomas Süssli, head of the Swiss Army, who believes that the human being is at the centre of any issues of security and who presented his Vision 2030 for the Swiss Army, and by General Didier Tisseyre, France’s Commander of Cyber Defence (COMCYBER), who gave an authoritative presentation of the balance of power between States at the cyber level, a new form of arms race.
For Vincent Lenders of Armasuisse, it is broadly accepted that human efforts alone will not be sufficient to tackle the work involved in cyber defence, and that artificial intelligence will play an important role. Brett Williams, once director of operations for the U.S. Cyber Command, shares this opinion: “it is necessary to act at a global level and to exchange knowledge and technical expertise between friendly countries.”
Finally, the lecture by Daniel Neuenschwander, Director of Space Transportation at the European Space Agency (ESA), pointed out that the level of vulnerability is proportional to the volume of data you are working with. When we think of geolocalisation, traffic management using GPS or its European equivalent Galileo, as well as weather forecasts, etc., operators must be certain that the information on their screens is a true reflection of reality.
Cybersecurity at SMEs was the focus of the event on the second day. The highlight was the visit of Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer, who reminded the audience that cybersecurity is the key to digital trust. In addition, InnoSuisse President André Kudelski made it clear that there is a lack of a clear strategy to promote innovative start-ups in the field of cybersecurity. He further emphasized the difficulty of distinguishing between projects that are true innovations and those that merely improve existing solutions.
At a time when there is a growing need for meaning and support to ensure the future viability of a business, the creation of the digiVolution Foundation was also announced, a new strategic force to better master cyber-bio-physical convergence and digitalization.
Finally, let’s mention the excellent World Economic Forum panel discussion during which Jürgen Stock, Secretary General of INTERPOL, and Amy Hogan-Burney, General Manager Digital Crimes Unit and Associate General Counsel, Microsoft, made a strong call for a global coordinated approach to crime, with a police authority with supranational powers. The same goes for criminal prosecution. In the immediate future, victims should have access to a national hotline for help.
All of the lectures and presentations will be available for replay from 26 March on the new interactive online platform “SCSD 365”. The platform for exchanging information will be accessible free of charge and will facilitate interaction within the cyber community throughout the year. Already about 1200 contacts have used it and about 4000 messages have been exchanged. The next Swiss Cyber Security Days will take place again on April 6-7, 2022.
Fribourg, 11 March 2021
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About Swiss Cyber Security Days
The Swiss Cyber Security Days (SCSD) aim to be the Swiss platform for cyber security and to present key topics that represent the relevant challenges in the field of cyber in our society. The focus is on politics, economy, education and research. All stakeholders should find the national platform for information exchange, inspiration and meetings with the leading experts in cyber security. The SCSD focus on the core values of transparency, knowledge transfer, open communication and discussion.