The Paris Cyber Summit, to be held on June 5 and 7, has chosen an amazing venue at the base of the Eiffel Tower to host its VIP guests this evening. The Ukrainian conflict will no doubt be at the heart of discussions throughout the event. Oleksandr Potii, the head of the Ukrainian Cybersecurity Agency, will be giving insights into cyber resilience.
In an exclusive interview for TheGreenBow, Oleksandr Potii details the challenges and expectations for his trip to Paris.
The SSSCIP protects all of Ukraine’s networks. Can you tell us about your missions and your daily life?
Ukraine has a system of agencies in place that deal with cybersecurity. We are one of them and our primary mission is to ensure cyber defense of public information resources and critical infrastructure information systems. However, our specialists and the Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine (CERT-UA) help and support everyone who reaches out to us.
Cyber aggression is a significant component of the war waged by Russia against our country, so its intensity has hardly decreased over the last year and a half. The entire SSSCIP team has been working in emergency mode to counter Russia’ aggression in cyberspace.
Every day, our critical information infrastructure, mostly civilian one, is attacked by various groups, ranging from so-called ‘hacktivists,’ carrying out simple attacks in coordination with Russian special services to attract maximum attention, to the ‘uniformed hackers’ who prey on complex targets and are actually able to inflict critical damage to our infrastructure, should they succeed.
Our specialists are addressing those attacks 24/7. The CERT-UA has manually processed over 3,000 cyberattacks for the last year and a half, most of them being launched by Russian hackers. Our specialists are well-versed in Russian hackers’ tactics and the tools they use. So, our CERT-UA has virtually become the center of expertise in cyber defense for the whole country and abroad.
We design national policies in cyber defense, information protection and so on. Therefore, our legislation team’s task is to create such a framework for the cyber defense system so as to operate efficiently and be adaptive to new threats and challenges.
The foundation of this system is up-to-date legislation, human resources, international cooperation and public-private partnership inside the country, as well as advanced technology infrastructure. The SSSCIP is a driver of such changes, and we draw on the CISA experience as one of the leading ones. We benefit from cooperation in multiple areas, ranging from legislation to practical protective action.
Secondly, as a government agency for the security and defense sector in a warring country, we see our mission in contributing to a global cybersecurity ecosystem, because we understand how critical can cyberspace threats can be for the functioning of a country. After all, the impact of those threats can vary from environmental disasters, caused by accidents at critical infrastructure facilities, to destabilization of the political situation inside the country.
Apart from cyber defense, we have over 100 different functions pertinent to civilian and secure governmental communications, special mail services, TV and radio broadcasting, etc.
Information and communication are at the heart of war and the SSSCIP has the heavy responsibility of ensuring the operational maintenance of means of communication and connections. How did you manage to protect your exchanges?
The enemy constantly seeks new ways to attack our information systems and networks. Likewise, we work daily on improving our protective tools, introducing new standards and practices, such as CISA approaches, NIST standards, EU acquis, making Ukraine a leading country in cyber defense. There is no doubt that our resilience would have been impossible without our partners that share with us their information, cyber defense tools and solutions, best practices on a daily basis. Public-private partnership is another factor of our resilience. Since the very first day of the full-scale invasion, government agencies and businesses have joined their efforts to assist everyone in need, because in cyberspace, we are as strong as our weakest link.
Why is SSSCIP coming at the Paris Cyber Summit?
Critical infrastructure protection is a global challenge. The war encompasses all the dimensions: informational, physical and cyberspace. Cyberspace is global. You cannot just build a wall between your country and the rest of the world, unless it is North Korea. So, whether we want it or not, we face threats coming from various countries and cybercrime groups every day. Ukraine has experience of how to confront the most aggressive totalitarian regime. Russian hackers work for their special services that use the same tactics worldwide, so we want our partners to benefit from our knowledge and become even more secure.
Our partners, in turn, have their own experience in addressing other threats that may be useful for us. So, our interest towards this Summit is both to share our expertise and to learn from other countries, finding new touchpoints and reinforcing each other. Besides, it is already obvious that countries should unite to establish the rules of safe online behavior and hold the countries and people, that ignore those rules, accountable. If we do not do this today, we will face dire consequences tomorrow. So, our objective at this forum is to facilitate the establishment of a global security ecosystem as much as we can for our common safer future.
“Like Oleksandr Potii, we strongly believe in the power of partnership between the state and the private sector in times of extreme crisis. TheGreenBow proved this recently during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a strongly committed company determined to contribute to the preservation of individual freedoms, TheGreenBow worked closely with the public sector to design a secure communications offering tailored to the needs of telecommuting,” comments Mathieu Isaia, Managing Director of TheGreenBow.
Oleksandr Potii, Deputy Chairman of the State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine.
Brigadier General Oleksandr Potii, the Deputy Chairman of the State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine since September 2020. Prof. Potii is an expert on information protection standards, the development of personnel potential in the field of cyberdefense, and the protection of critical information infrastructure, information security, and cryptography.
From 2019 to 2020, Deputy Chief Designer of Systems and Means of Cryptographic Information Protection at the Private Joint Stock Company “Institute of Information Technology”. From 2014 to 2019, Professor of Security Information Systems and Technologies, at the Faculty of Computer Science, the Kharkiv National University. He served in the Air Force of Ukraine for 25 years.