In the framework of the International Safe Internet Day, the National Authority on Electronic Certification and Cyber Security (NAECCS) in cooperation with the OSCE Presence in Albania, USAID / DAI, the National Agency of Information Society (NAIS), the Albanian Association of Banks, Soft&Solution, R&T Group, One Telecommunications and DigitALB organized the conference “Challenges of Cyber Security in Albania”, near the MAK Albania hotel.
The purpose of the conference was to increase the level of cyber security in the country in implementation of the new Strategic Plan for cyber security, by addressing current cyber security challenges, as well as strengthening cooperation with strategic partners and collaborators, considering also the valuable contribution of experts in the field from the Diaspora.
The conference was opened by the General Director of NAECCS, at the same time the National Coordinator for Cyber Security, Mr. Igli Tafa, who emphasized that “Security and protection against misuse of the Internet is today a worldwide challenge. NAECCS is here to protect your data and today is the right time to come together and address the challenges that await us.
The implementation of the New Strategy for Cyber Security by NAECCS is a big challenge, but it is a long, dynamic and difficult process. But we are not alone, we have the full support of the Albanian Government and important international partners. We know very well that the key to success is the unification of the actors towards this fight. Only by being together, sharing information, increasing technological and human capacities, making everyone aware of the challenges that await us and raising daily standards, will we be successful against cyber enemies.”
In her speech, the Deputy Prime Minister Mrs. Belinda Balluku, revealed the Albanian Government’s vision for cyber security, based on the principle of “Confidence Building” and the inclusiveness of cyber governance. The Deputy Prime Minister also said: “Cyber security is an essential element for the proper functioning of the government and all information infrastructures. Thanks to the timely response and the support of our strategic partners and collaborators, this attack did not achieve its main goal of bringing the state to its knees and destroying these infrastructures.”
The conference continued with the panel “Strengthening strategic cooperation to increase cyber security”, which focused on increasing cooperation to guarantee interaction and coordination in strengthening security and minimizing damage from cyber attacks.
In her speech Mrs. Olta Xhaçka, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs emphasized the efforts for cooperation with allies and partners, in order to build capacities and infrastructure in defense against malicious attacks by state and non-state actors.
Mr. Bledar Çuçi, Interior Minister said, “Just as we have constantly tried to make our systems more efficient, to save citizens’ time, we have the great responsibility to raise all the necessary capacities to guarantee data security and services provided”.
In his speech, Mr. Niko Peleshi, Minister of Defense highlighted again that security and cyber protection is a priority of the Albanian Government, specifically “After the cyber attacks of July 15, 2022, Albania is in the vanguard compared to many other countries in the region, because it has rapidly entered into a process of modernization of the entire cyber defense system, has multiplied the budgets, has increased measures for education, awareness, and this conference is part of this great effort of the Albanian Government. We have greatly increased lobbying and we have expanded the network of partners.
Her Excellency Ms. Yuri Kim, Ambassador of the United States of America, His Excellency Mr. Guido de Sanctis, Ambassador of the OSCE Presence in Albania, Her Excellency Mrs. Galit Peleg, Ambassador of the State of Israel in Albania and Her Excellency Ms. Christiane Hohmann, Ambassador of the EU Delegation in Albania, addressed the cyber security challenges in Albania, identifying the need for cooperation, to respond together to global cyber threats.
he Ambassador of the United States of America Mrs. Yuri Kim in her speech emphasized the support of the Government of the United States of America for increasing the level of cyber security in Albania. Specifically, she said, “You are not alone. And you are certainly not alone in answering cyber attacks. The United States is with you. It is clear that the United States and Albania must identify our common defense and response against cyber attacks. Working together with Dr. Tafa, the United States and Albania are implementing one of our largest security assistance efforts, amounting to $50 million in support of strengthening Albania’s cyber defenses. This is only the beggining.”
The Chairman of the OSCE Presence, Ambassador Guido De Sanctis, focused on the importance of cooperation and awareness raising. He highlighted the assistance of the Presence in the drafting of the National Cyber Security Strategy 2020-2025 and the Strategy for the Investigation of Cyber Crimes 2021-2025; developing training of trainers for cybercrimes; and the support that the Presence has given to the National Authority to raise the awareness of different social groups about cyber threats, with a special focus on youth and cooperation.
Ambassador Mrs. Christiane Hohmann emphasized the EU’s solidarity with Albania and international cooperation. “Making cyber security a priority is challenging for all of us, as it is for Albania. The EU is proud to have brought expertise from Estonia 🇪🇪 and other EU countries in response to last summer’s cyber attacks. We will stay in this field for a long time to help Albania to be safer and more stable”, said Ambassador Hohmann.
The Ambassador of the State of Israel Mrs. Galit Peleg, stated that the State of Israel has concretized the cooperation with Albania, through the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation, with a focus on increasing professional capacities, sharing information and strengthening defense capabilities between the two states.
The conference continued with the session “Protection of critical information infrastructures”. The special guest of this panel was the Ambassador of the Permanent Representation in NATO of the Republic of Albania, Mr. Visho Ajazi Lika, who focused on the commitments of Albania as a country of the Alliance and the cooperation with each of the member countries in the field of cyber security. The focus of this panel was to present the challenges and best practices for responding to cyber incidents by critical infrastructure operators in the government, financial, energy and transportation sectors.
This session ended with the signing of the Cooperation Agreement between NAECCS and the Albanian Association of Banks, to increase information and information exchange in an open, interactive, safe and reliable infrastructure, prioritizing the field of cyber security.
The last session of the conference was dedicated to “The importance of inclusiveness for increasing cyber resilience” and the launch of the Cyber Diaspora Forum, in which private sector representatives Mr. Renis Tërshana, R&T Group administrator and Mr. Ermal Beqiri, founder of Soft & Solution, as well as experts in the Diaspora, Mr. Endrit Demi, Mr. Enkelejd Zoto, Mr. Adi Dibra, Mr. Adrian Cëtza and Mr. Rio Sherri, who expressed their willingness to contribute with their experience in strengthening security at the national level . At a time when the digitization and protection of information systems is always in the focus of the Albanian Government, the expertise and valuable contribution of Albanian experts in the Diaspora is an added value in the ongoing process of securing the cyber ecosystem.