Balkans: Foreign influence and cyberwarfare

Blerim Abedini, the Center for Security Studies and Development- Macedonia (CSSD)

Banking transactions on the Balkan Peninsula may be called insecure, and it differs from the country where the transaction takes place.  The integration of backward economies needs the implementation of security standards for the protection of competitive businesses. Also, workers’ salaries through banks require greater security due to the use of e-banking in repayment of public liabilities. Mr. Todor Tagarov, head of the “IT Security” section in Bulgaria has said that Bulgaria has protection in cyber related issues but other Balkans countries have not enough that protection.

The Balkans on cyber security have not achieved the right results. Different factors are affected here, while the first of them is the economy of the country. Macedonia lags behind in cyberspace from Croatia and Serbia. Banking transactions on the Balkan Peninsula may be called insecure, and it differs from the country where the transaction takes place. Cyber ​​security is reciprocal with the volume of bank transactions. So even cyber defense has its own price. Dynamism in Western economies tends to spread to emerging economies as well. The integration of backward economies needs the implementation of security standards for the protection of competitive businesses. Also, workers’ salaries through banks require greater security due to the use of e-banking in repayment of public liabilities. The event that has repeatedly been repeated in Macedonia with stealing money from Macedonian citizens’ accounts is worrying. We are aware of how Bulgarian citizens have operated in Macedonia by withdrawing large amounts of money from banks in Macedonia. This happens almost every year. It should be noted that the aspect of administrative corruption has also helped these incidents.

These negative phenomena should be seen as low experience in the use of e-banking taking into account some of the criteria that are recommended in the seminars held for cyber security. There are debates and studies on cyber security in the Balkans, but there is also the need for institutional intervention to educate Internet users for the security they need from cyberattacks.

The most important international convention in the area of Cyber security is the 2001 CoE Convention on Cybercrime (also called the Budapest Convention). The Convention is signed by 54 countries from around the world and all the Western Balkan countries are part of the convention. The transfer of personal data and data protection issues are linked to the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, signed by 47 states, by including Western Balkan countries. The Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE), adopted in May 2010, is one of the most important strategic documents of the EU. Inside DAE, the Digital Single Market Strategy is built on three pillars: better access to digital goods; an environment for digital networks and services to flourish; and maximising the growth of the digital economy.

In order to accomplish the given goals the EU’s first comprehensive policy document in this area , is the Cybersecurity Strategy. Its priorities are:

  • Achieving cyber resilience; Drastically reducing cybercrime; Developing a cyber defence policy and capabilities related to the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP); Developing the industrial and technological resources for cybersecurity; Establishing a coherent international cyberspace policy for the EU and the promotion of core EU values.

Furthermore, as react to terrorist attacks in the EU,The European Agenda on Security (EAS) was approved in 2015, providing the overall strategic framework for the EU initiatives on cyber security and cybercrime. Key actions under this Agenda include, updating the Framework Decision on Terrorism, enhancing dialogues with the IT industry, and reinforcing tools to fight cybercrime. It also highlights the importance of enhancing the capacities of Europol, including the actions to tackle foreign terrorist fighters, terrorist financing, violent extremist content online, and illicit trafficking of firearms.

In Skopje, on March 17, 2015 was held advanced research workshop titled “Promoting awareness in the field of cyber defense in the Balkans”. The workshop was sponsored by the NATO program “Science for Peace and Security,” and realized by the Youth Club of the Bulgarian Atlantic Club and the Research Center for Security, Defense and Peace in Macedonia. The main objective of the workshop was, to increase the level of awareness in the field of cyber security and defense, and the importance of creating strategy, frameworks and agencies to deal with everyday threats in cyber space in the region.

Macedonia is planned by 2018 to start a cyber insurance that, insurance companies will offer services for the safety of citizens’ bank accounts and computer systems that can be attacked. In the region such packages are offered in Croatia and Slovenia.
Mr. Todor Tagarov, head of the “IT Security” section in Bulgaria and the participants of the NATO research workshop entitled “Increasing awareness of cyber defense in the Balkans”, has said that Bulgaria has protection in cyber related issues but other Balkans countries have not enough that protection, for example related to finance terrorist groups via the internet. For that, need engagement to find protection solutions for all countries, because is a common interest.

According to related works on cyber security by DiploFoundation in the field of Internet governance and digital policy, the South-Eastern Europe are not immune to cyber security attacks. With the increasing digitalisation of society, including emerging e-government services and databases, interconnecting the critical infrastructure and industry, and enhancing online banking and financial services, the stakes are growing sky-high. A country-scale cyber-attack of one country in the Western Balkans  could result in a direct loss of more than €10 million per day.

The National Cyber Security Centre held cyber security exercise Cyber Czech 2016 on 28th February and 1st March in Brno, took participants of six Balkan nations: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia within members of institutions that are responsible for assuring cyber security in their respective countries. All members are of TAIEX program run by European Commission that aims to support public administration in neighboring regions. Red Team, responsible for simulated attacks, consisted of experts from National Cyber Security Centre and s Institute of Computer Science.

Photo: Cyber security exercise Cyber Czech 2016 on 28th February and 1st March in Brno, with participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

 

We can see that a significant number of activities in the field of cyber security are not enough for the Balkan states. Collaboration in this area will enable states to influence the prevention of cyber attacks. Understandably, judicial administration reforms will also contribute more to reducing corruption, which may be accelerating cyber attacks. We all need to know that corruption is ‘secret hand’ after every economic interest. Seeing that Bulgaria is a step forward in cyber security, it tells us that it has deserved it thanks to the reforms recommended by the EU. Western Balkan states should intensify its reform mechanism for dynamic progress with integrated economies, otherwise recurring stagnation brings consequences for new generations that have other aspirations.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *