Cyberspace is far from perfect. It is at risk of vulnerabilities, some of which involve genuine human error, whilst others are exposed to malicious intent. Furthermore, global innovations within its realm are even faster than the ability to secure it. Hence the need for cyber security, that is, ensuring the safety, confidentiality, integrity and availability of cyberspace.
Launching cyber security on a national scale, essentially calls for a planned, collective and systemic approach, thus leading to the need of a National Cyber Security Strategy. Digital Malta – the National Digital Strategy for Malta for the period 2014-2020 – recognises and proposes the fulfilment of such need, in the light of Malta’s increased dependence upon cyber-space in its day to day interactivity, within and beyond its shores. Indeed, in 2015, the European Commission’s e-Government Benchmark Report re-confirmed Malta as the leader in the delivery and performance of e-Government services amongst thirty-three countries.
Malta is addressing such a need. A Green Paper for a National Cyber Security Strategy was launched in October 2015, as basis for consultation. The Green Paper presented a high level, strategic approach for cyber security on a national scale. It intended to inculcate an awareness of cyber security, its extent and its implications of which Malta, as an integral part of cyberspace, needs to consider. The National Cyber Security Strategy that was launched is a consolidation of the proposals presented by the Green Paper following online feedback and a number of consultation sessions held.
The National Cyber Security Strategy recognises that tackling cyber security entails the need to
- Safeguard the rule of law in line with Malta’s Constitution and Malta’s role as a European Union Member State
- Adopt a multi-disciplinary approach
- Ensure that all stakeholders of cyberspace; government, private sector, and civil society understand their shared responsibility and thus commitment to collaboration and cooperation, to ensure a safe, stable and secure environment
Prior to proposing the strategy however, research & assessments have been made so as to enable a high level pragmatic approach towards cyber security within the local context. The ensuing strategic direction within the Green Paper is proposed to be attained by six goals, each of which carries a number of proposed measures, as follows
- Goal: Establish a Governance Framework
- Goal: Combat Cybercrime
- Goal: Strengthen National Cyber Defence
- Goal: Secure cyberspace
- Goal: Cyber security Awareness and Education
- Goal: National and International Cooperation
All six goals aim to cover two key strategic outcomes expected of the Strategy, namely those of:
- Defending and protecting the national information infrastructure from cyber threats.
- Ensuring the security, safety and protection of users of cyberspace.
The proposed strategic approach is by no means the end in itself. It is understood that the launch of the Strategy is only the start of a continuous process that calls for its implementation, evaluation and maintenance so as to ensure its currency and effectiveness in line with:
- Increased recognition on a nation-wide scale of the importance to adopt cyber security measures in day to day corporate and individual activities
- Evolving maturity of overall cyber security capability
- Technological developments and applicability, along with related cyber security challenges
Hence, the Strategy would be expected to be periodically reviewed and updated. Ultimately, the Strategy is understood as a means for national cyber security investment that indicates Malta as a:
- Secure online jurisdiction
- Centre of excellence in various business sectors interacting within cyberspace.