On 27th of October Warsaw Institute for Strategic Initiatives organized a debate summarizing the aspects of capability to operate in cyberspace. The meeting was the conclusion of four expert workshops regarding this topic and the same time another element of the Programme for Development of Polish Defense Capabilities. Debate was initiated with the speech by Krzysztof Silicki, undersecretary of state in the Ministry of Digital Affairs, who emphasized the complexity of adjusting public administration to operate in cyberspace that would require cooperation of various institutions both on national and international level. Dariusz Lasocki, president of WIIS, argued that XXI century urges us to change our old ways of behavior and requires a certain change in regards to approaching security. Activities are much more often transferred to cyberspace, which might endanger not only public institutions but also a whole state. In the face of local elections this aspect has been recognized as the biggest potential threat for Poland.
Afterwards, recommendations included in the final report reagrding key areas and capabilities which have to be developed were presented by the WIIS's expert, Andrzej Kozłowski PhD. As a moderator of the first discussion he emphasized that broad coordination has to be elaborated - especially given the context of approaching local elections. Magdalena Wrzosek, an expert of NASK, clarified that interference in elections might be achieved by disinformation campaigns, „microtargeting” or information leakages. She argued that there is a visible change in European Union’s approach toward this issue, which resulted in the creation of Toolbox. Paweł Wiszniewski, National Security Bureau, highlighted the complete lack of public discourse regarding this topic. „There was only one meeting discussing the issue of cybersecurity and local government”, he argued that there is a necessity of modification of current laws to accelerate whole process. Finally Commander Wiesław Goździewicz, legal counsel at NATO JFTC, argued that manipulation and attempts to affect elections are not something new and it might be just said that new ways and means were found and used. Moreover he emphasized the importance of media in the society and how both dangerous and useful the controlled media can be, for example Russia Today.
In the second part the guests discussed how to develop the ability to operate in cyberspace. Moderator Kamil Gapiński from Safe Cyberspace Foundation started to wonder how the implementation of General Data Protection Regulation will change the situation. Adam Kozakiewicz, the head of Institute of Methods of Network Information and Security at NASK, argued that there is a visible paradox - the same data regulated by GDPR might be used to protect the user, moreover the legal terms and definitions are ambiguous. The second guest, Marcin Brzeziński from Inspectorate of Information Systems, also noticed that there is an issue with General Data Protection Regulation: the data might be held by one entity while a different one might modify and work with it. Mr. Kozakiewicz and Patryk Romatowski, head of the Bureau of Electronics, Computer Science and Cybertechnology of PGZ S.A., discussed the importance of financing and the final shape of the institutions responsible for the cyberspace in Poland. Finally the guests discussed the most important aspect of cybersecurity - human factor. In the opinion of Mr. Romatowski “The biggest issue is not the number of IT-specialists but their quality, the best ones work for Intel or Google. Public sector gets only the second or third tier and there is not much we can do about it since they have the financial leverage”. In his opinion due to limited abilities polish government has to focus on safety clusters which are feasible and would work out greatly in Poland.
The debate was a summary of four workshops involving various military, industrial and scientific institutions which were part of the Programme for Development of Polish Defence Capabilities created by the Warsaw Institute for Strategic Initiatives. The program has been granted honorary patronage by the Minister of National Defence, Minister of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation and Ministry of Digital Affairs. Further parts of this program will analyze other components of defense capabilities of Poland shortly.