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Trendsetters from Poland: A New Roadmap for Cybersecurity Education

In a world gone online, Interpol warns that more than half of humanity risks falling victim to cybercrime. The international organisation for crime control alerts that cybercriminals are turning the pandemic into an opportunity while the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners has noted that cybercrime jumped 89 per cent since COVID-19.

December 24, 2020 - New Eastern Europe - Articles and Commentary

Handover of the report to Ambassador Jürg Lauber, Chair of the Open Ended Working Group on cybersecurity at the United Nations in Geneva (Switzerland).

Despite such alarming figures, for the majority in private enterprise and government it is business as usual while most ordinary people feel less concerned. The situation in academia is similar, where cybersecurity is still considered a marginal topic, even in technical universities where it should be a vital part of their programmes.

But change may be on the horizon. Polish students taking part in the Bridge Foundation Regional Cyber Labs reviewed the university curricula across disciplines and assembled practical recommendations to improve cybersecurity education across Engineering/IT, Business, Law, Medical Schools and Military Academies. Their report titled: “A New Roadmap for Cybersecurity Education” was delivered to the United Nations and received positive reviews from Ambassador Jürg Lauber, Chair of the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) on cybersecurity.

“Technology is developing faster than our comprehension of its implications,” Ambassador Lauber said, adding that in an increasingly interconnected world cybersecurity awareness has become a must. “The Regional Cyber Labs will help create the necessary awareness,” saying as he wished the young project Ambassadors success in their endeavour. The contribution of Polish youth is now part of the global review process for better cybersecurity governance that the OEWG is conducting as it prepares its recommendations for the UN General Assembly in March 2021.

The “New Roadmap for Cybersecurity Education” is now publicly available and can be downloaded from the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs website.

This represents the first international project of the Regional Cyber Labs, a platform for those interested in cybersecurity comments Margo Koniuszewski, President of the Bridge Foundation. She adds that the entire initiative builds on the inter-disciplinary CyberSecurityChallengePL2020 that took place in April under the patronage of the Polish Ministry of Digital Affairs, ISSA Poland, Government Center for Security (RCB), and the embassies of Sweden and Switzerland. Students from 65 universities representing the faculties of IT/Engineering, Law, Business, Medicine and Military Academies formed “tiger groups” advising the government in a complex, far-reaching and multi-faceted cyberattack.

For months, students honed their skills and knowledge of the cybersecurity ecosystem as they prepared for the challenge. After the competition, the intellectual and human capital it produced helped in creating the Regional Cyber Labs as centres for cybersecurity awareness and education in each voivodeship. The cyber labs were officially launched in October at the Warsaw Stock Exchange, a partner of the project, in the presence of Ambassadors and diplomats from Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia, Israel and Georgia, and representatives from industry. 

Given ever-growing security challenges that cyber-threats represent, Koniuszewski calls for an urgent and far-reaching cybersecurity upgrade in education in Poland, in the region and beyond. This is why it was so important to involve universities from across Poland but also the international community including international student associations – ELSA Poland, ESN Poland and IFMSA Poland – as well as ambassadors, experts and practitioners to comment on the report and the importance of cybersecurity education in the 21st century. She concludes that while this is just the beginning, it is a giant step in the right direction. 

The inter-disciplinary CyberSecurityChallengePL2020 and the Regional Cyber Labs initiative took place under the honorary patronage of the Swiss and Swedish Embassies in Poland. Swiss Ambassador Jürg Burri welcomed the Regional Cyber Labs initiative and praised Poland for its abundant IT talent and as a great provider of IT services and cybersecurity while Swedish Ambassador Stefan Gullgren emphasized that cybersecurity education is a key component of Sweden’s national cybersecurity strategy and that the deployment of 5G technology presents a great potential for cooperation between Sweden and Poland.

This article is published in the framework of New Eastern Europe’s ongoing media partnership with the Polish-based Bridge Foundation. Learn more about their activities here: https://www.thebridge-foundation.org/the-bridge

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