On 18 May, the Ministers of Defence of Austria, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Netherlands as well as the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Head of Agency on behalf of the European External Action Service, EU Military Committee and European Defence Agency, signed a pledge to mitigate human-related risks in cyber space by launching the Cyber Hygiene initiative. The initiative is an important contribution to the implementation of the EU Cyber Defence Policy Framework, notably on awareness raising for CSDP structures, missions and operations.
By joining the pledge, the signatory Member States promise to adopt and implement internal guidelines for best behavioural principles for cyber hygiene by the end of 2016. This includes, for example, introducing a mandatory e-learning platform.
Initiated by the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU and the Estonian Ministry of Defence, the initiative calls to strengthen cyber security culture as low awareness and human-related risks are a common cause of cyber incidents. A large number of cyber incidents can be avoided, or their effects greatly mitigated, if certain behavioural cyber security procedures and implementation measures are applied. It is part of a wider project, which aims to educate the members of defence sector institutions on secure behaviour while using online resources.
Beyond its commitment to implement internal guidelines, the Agency will contribute to expanding this initiative to other interested EU Member States.
The December 2013 European Council identified cyber defence as one of the priority areas to take forward in the European Union. Furthermore, in November 2014 the Council adopted the EU Cyber Defence Policy Framework. Cyber defence has also been identified as a priority area in the EDA’s Capability Development Plan.
The armed forces are reliant on cyberspace both as a user and as a domain to achieve defence and security missions. The Agency is active in the fields of cyber defence capabilities and in the research & technology domain.
In the last three years, the Agency has completed ten cyber defence related projects with a financial volume of about two million euros. This equals to approximately 10% of EDA’s operational budget. Among these ten projects are a stocktaking study of cyber defence capabilities among all EDA Member States and EU institutions, the establishment of a cyber defence research agenda and cyber defence training courses for senior military decision makers as well as the assessment of the feasibility of a EU Cyber Defence Centre for CSDP.
Copyright picture: European Union, 2015.
From left to right: Ms. Jeanine HENNIS-PLASSCHAERT, Dutch Minister of Defence; Mr Gerald KLUG, Austrian Federal Minister for Defence and Sport; Mr Sven MIKSER, Estonian Minister of Defence; Ms. Federica MOGHERINI, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Mr Raimonds VEJONIS, Latvian Minister for Defence; Mr Juozas OLEKAS, Lithuanian Minister for National Defence; Ms. Piritta ASUNMAA, PSC Ambassador of Finland