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Strengthening cybersecurity is more relevant today than ever before, says R. Karoblis

On April 16 the annual National Cybersecurity Assessment was presented via teleconference with attendance of Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis, Vice Minister of National Defence Edvinas Kerza and Director of the National Cyber Security Centre under the MoD Dr. Rytis Rainys.

“Strengthening cybersecurity is more relevant today than ever before. Risk of vulnerability of both, people and businesses has increased several times since our lives as they were before the coronavirus have been moved to virtual space,” Minister of National Defence said at the teleconference. “We have been monitoring steady efforts to spread disinformation targeting decisions taken to manage the spread of the coronavirus since the introduction of the quarantine as well. Malicious actors are also trying to take advantage of the situation where a major part of the population are observing quarantine requirements and spend more time in the Internet while diminishing institutional efforts to mitigate the spread and sowing fear of the unknown – and that way impeding effectiveness of the mitigation measures and trust in the decisions. The coronavirus crisis has not only not reduced security threats in Europe but created conditions for the threats to grow, for which reason we have to strengthen cybersecurity even more decisively.”

Vice Minister of National Defence Edvinas Kerza accentuated when presenting the annual National Cybersecurity Assessment that “last year’s insights about the apps installed on smart phones or Wi-Fi devices used at home have become even more important now that we have moved from thoroughly protected internal networks and systems of our workplaces to our kitchens, bedrooms and countryside estates, i.e., from a secure environment to a less secure.”

Vice Minister pointed out that the status report not only described challenges but also provided advice on how to face them and new instruments to help us all manage cybersecurity challenges in a better way. “The instruments were developed by the National Cyber Security Centre under the MoD. Automated website screening is one of such instruments. It is really relevant because approx. 37% of websites in Lithuania have vulnerabilities,” he said.

“The impact of cybersecurity incidents is increasing because their sophistication increases. 3,241 cyber incidents that required direct involvement of experts were detected in Lithuania in 2019, the number is three times higher earlier (only 914 were detected in 2018). The number of cyber incidents processed by automated means in Lithuania‘s IP range amounted to 300,000 last year. Therefore we all should continue being really attentive about the treats posed by cyber incidents and to follow the security recommendations provided by cybersecurity experts,” Director of the National Cyber Security Centre under the MoD Dr Rytis Rainys said.

The National Cyber Security Centre changed cyber incident classification in order to unify it with the EU practices: from now on an event is classified as a cyber incident depending on its specifically defined impact. Incidents are also subject to a more in-depth analysis as a result of experience gained in the recent years.

The Core Centre of State Telecommunications was inaugurated in 2019: over the year, it prevented roughly 3 million DDoS attacks against secure network users with the tools available to it. The secure network covers 451 institutions that carry out functions in emergencies, natural disasters, mobilisation, war, and other extreme situations. The Centre also detected activities of unfriendly states targeting critical infrastructure.

The status report also says the number of resonance multi-layered information attacks comprising cyber and information elements was increasing in 2019. One fourth of the 2,890 detected information attacks were targeting areas of protection of constitutional foundation and defence.

Specimen of unreliable software and hardware that send user data to countries that do not adhere to the EU data protection standards were identified in 2019. As the National Cyber Security Centre findings show, popular apps and software, such as ABBYY Business Card Scanner, Yandex.Taxi, or FaceApp, ask obviously excessive rights to access data and services on the device.

Also, a 35% increase has been identified in electronic communications reconnaissance (scanning) activities in critical information infrastructure management and state information resources management and maintenance electronic communications networks. The significant intensification of scanning activities in 2019 was seen in state governance, energy and national defence sectors.

The cybersecurity assessment also states that a coherent national cybersecurity policy was continued to be implemented in Lithuania throughout 2019: the work of establishing the Regional Cybersecurity Centre in Kaunas began. Lithuania continues to be a leader in strengthening cybersecurity internationally too by successfully heading one of the European Union initiatives for creation of joint cyber rapid response teams (CRRTs) that have already proved themselves in practice at an exercise, Amber Mist, held in Lithuania. Lithuania leads the international rapid response team on standby this year.

The national cybersecurity status report names resonance cyber and information attack-related incidents in Lithuania in2019 and offers key recommendations for users on managing risks related to cyber threats.

National cybersecurity status report 2019 (in Lithuanian)

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