National Security and Defense Council Deputy Secretary, Serhii Demediuk, US Department of State Senior Assistance Coordinator for Ukrainian Affairs, David Shlaefer, Head of the National Cybersecurity Coordination Center Support Department, Serhiy Prokopenko, and 90 representatives from embassies, the private sector, the Government of Ukraine, and the telecommunciations industries gathered on April 21 to examine the immediate and long-term priorities for Ukraine’s cyber resilience.
Though this was the first gathering since the Russian invasion, the National Cybersecurity Cluster has convened ten times since its launch in early 2021. The National Cybersecurity Coordinating Centre of the National Security and Defense Council, with support from CRDF Global and the U.S. Department of State Office of the Coordinator for Assistance to Europe and Eurasia, recognized the need for better communication and coordination in the cyber sphere in Ukraine, especially in the face of ongoing malign activities by Russia and non-state actors.
“We are conducting this Cluster meeting in circumstances which are not desirable but forced. We must evaluate the problems that arose during the full-scale invasion, at the early stages of the war. We must evaluate the synchronization of our joint work, which has already proven effectiveness, as well as the right decisions of each of the participants and managers of telecommunications companies, who are fully devoted to their work. Due to our dedicated cooperation, work, and understanding of what we do, we have already managed to prevent many sabotage scenarios,” stressed Serhii Demediuk, Deputy Secretary of the NSDC of Ukraine.
The full-scale military invasion in Ukraine in February 2022 has only increased the need for focused efforts to support and protect critical infrastructure and communications from cyber attacks. Due to this, it is more important than ever to continue the National Cybersecurity Cluster initiative as the current situation requires relevant and timely reaction.
“Ukrainians’ resilience and spirit has been an inspiration for the entire world during the last two months. We are confident that Ukraine is going to overcome whatever challenges in the future. And we are committed to working closely in the cyber field and any other areas in order to ensure our collective success. The United States remain committed to supporting Ukraine’s cyber resilience,” said David Schlaefer, Senior Assistance Coordinator, U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.
During the event, participants discussed current cybersecurity challenges, the status of National Cybersecurity Strategy implementation, and investigated the nature and mechanisms of recent cyber-attacks. A special emphasis of the session was on reviewing the needs of telecom-providers and operators, who have lost the ability to provide their services in full due to the active hostilities in certain regions of Ukraine.
“The realities in which Ukraine exists today shook the world. This resulted in extraordinary outpouring of worldwide support, which should be considered rather as an opportunity to further develop the sphere of cybersecurity in the country than just as a helping hand. Our main goal today is to focus our efforts not only on rebuilding cybersecurity infrastructure to pre-war levels but to standards far above those. It is an opportunity wrapped in a risk,” summed up Maggie McDonough, Director of Technology & Innovation at CRDF Global.
Amid large-scale hostilities, the issues of ensuring sustainable development and reinforcing resistance of cyber defense mechanisms remain crucial for Ukraine. As a platform for multilateral dialogue among key stakeholders, the National Cybersecurity Cluster will remain to serve its primary purpose – coordinating efforts to address primary needs in the sphere of cybersecurity.