The role of digital transformation in national cybersecurity | NTT DATA

Tue, 19 July 2022

The challenges of the public sector and how a digital transformation will strengthen national cybersecurity

The main public safety threats

After decreasing since 2016, crime rate in the EU increased by 3.5% in 2020 which means Europe is still one of the safest places in the world. However, the number of cyberattacks has increased over the last few years. With a daily average of 45 million attacks worldwide, strengthening cybersecurity has become a priority for every country.

One of the most important hacks of 2021 was the data breach suffered by the Amazon-owned live streaming service Twitch when 128 GB of data was released on the 4chan forum as a torrent. This included the company’s full source code, internal documents, and individual streamers’ revenue. The company released a statement saying the breach was caused by a server configuration change that allowed attackers to gain access to sensitive data.

But cyberattacks aren’t only aimed at organizations. Several countries have suffered attacks directed at some of their most important public administrations so what technological developments can help public administrations in their fight against cyberattacks?

The digital transformation of public safety and how it helps in the fight against cyberattacks

Each country is responsible for protecting its population against the threats currently arising from both the physical and digital fronts and while most are prioritizing the digital transformation projects of the systems and processes they have in place, many are also rethinking what security represents in this day and age.

To face the new threats in the digital world and be prepared to act in the most efficient way possible, public administrations must be one step ahead of cybercriminals and have at their disposal advanced tools that allow them to react immediately. Security services need to carry out their work in secure environments that give them the ability to analyze and operate large volumes of data instantly using advanced technologies such as data analytics, big data, AI or machine learning. This is essential to guarantee a democratic state that provides social and economic stability, where citizens and companies can develop their activity safely.

How can advanced technologies improve national security?

The applications of current technologies in homeland security are numerous and will only increase over time given the advanced pace at which new solutions are being developed. Thanks to these digital tools, artificial intelligence and the use of other innovative technologies, important advances are being made in the fight against cybercrimes such as phishing or computer fraud, as well as in the investigation of crimes in general.

What are the most common applications that we have all used without realizing it?

Intelligent border management

Today, in most airports we can see new systems for intelligent border management (Smart Borders) that analyze the digital identity and biometrics of each traveler, and allow the authorities to manage the traffic of citizens in a rigorous and agile way.

Command and control centers with open surveillance

In terms of cybersecurity, digital solutions that detect and raise alarms in the event of a cyberattack are becoming increasingly advanced and accurate. Command and control centers with open operational surveillance solutions can incorporate different sources of information (IoT, sensors, video, etc.), highly interoperable with all the necessary agents to carry out an intelligent response to emergencies (Smart Emergency Response). Intelligent information analysis software allows the police to filter important information and have a complete view of a potentially dangerous situation.

Smart metering devices and video surveillance systems

On the other hand, smart metering devices or video surveillance systems on roads, at events, airports or public buildings are vital to gather valuable information and generate a quick and agile response in the event of an attack.

The prediction and early recognition of forest fires is more accurate than ever thanks to sensors installed in trees that can recognize and trigger alarms as quickly as possible.

Why is data the new currency?

Data is one of the main transforming levers, and a great ally for decision makers because it allows them to analyze, plan, design, execute and measure in a more intelligent way all the policies that are implemented in public safety. In this context, the key, as in any other public policy, is to manage the digital transformation and valorization of data in a way that is aligned to the current security challenges: zero errors, predictive algorithms, patterns, and fast and effective responses. 

But if data is the raw material of digital transformation, how valuable is our data exactly?

Although its value is incalculable according to experts, data is something we generally neglect, given that a large part of cyberattacks occur due to carelessness on the part of users.

While being reluctant to change and being distrustful when sharing information, there has been a clear transformation in perception in the wake of the pandemic that has accelerated innovation and changed our attitudes about technology in the public security sector.

Relevant public safety projects

Here are some of the latest initiatives implemented by Spain to strengthen national cybersecurity:

Entry/Exit System (EES)

A project at European level is the Entry/Exit System (EES), a system that manages travel information: dates and places of entry and exit of third-country nationals, personal and biometric data (photograph and fingerprints) and possible refusals of entry. This new inictiative aims to reduce delays at border controls, ensure reliable identification of persons who overstay their authorized duration of stay, and strengthen internal security.

Sirdee Program

One of the main initiatives in Spain in terms of national security is the Sirdee Program (Sistema Integral de Radiocomunicaciones Digitales de Emergencia del Estado), which aims to replace and homogenize the old analog networks of the National Police and the Civil Guard, and to provide the State Security Forces and Corps with a common radio communications platform that would maintain their operability in both normal and crisis or emergency situations.

During the last 20 years, the Sirdee Program has provided its service in all the major crises that Spain has gone through, from terrorist attacks, earthquakes, floods or in the worst moments of the COVID-19 health crisis, managing more than four million calls per year.

AlertCops Project

The AlertCops Project is another initiative created to help citizens in dangerous situations, by triggering alarms, sending the geolocations of threats together with photographs or audios, aimed to warn citizens about a crisis or the perpetration of a crime through the application. The purpose of this initiative is to report any criminal act suffered or seen in the street.

Although technological advances have brought great progress in the cybersecurity sector, the frequency of attacks has also increased over the past few years. Unfortunately, the more digital we become, the more susceptible the digital realm will become to cyberattacks and that is why it is important to continue to invest and arm national security agencies with the most advanced tools.


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