6 October 2022
The AI N’ Cyber Conference 2022 was designed to provide vital information on the latest cutting-edge technologies, trends and challenges in the fast-evolving world of cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. The event took place in-person on the 5th and 6th October during the EU cyber security month, in Sofia Tech Park.
The conveners from Digital National Alliance and Konrad Adenauer Foundation aimed to provide government officials, leaders of the industry, IT consultants and experts with updated information on the latest leading-edge technologies. Several workshops were organized by various specialized companies, among them Acronis with the presentation: Next-generation protection with Acronis Cyber Protect. Acronis and Software maintain a dialogue over possibilities for cooperation.
Several well-known politicians and high-ranking administrators participated in the conference, among them: Rosen Plevneliev, President of Bulgaria (2012-2017), Bojidar Bozhanov, Minister of E-Governance (2021-2022), and Blagovest Kirilov, the current Deputy Minister of E-Governance and others. Equally interesting were the interventions by representatives of the universities, notably the Technical University Sofia, from where came the speakers: Prof. Georgi Todorov, Prof. Dimitar Nikolov, and Dr. George Dimitrov.
The Threat Landscape report of the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity, ENISA, presented by Ifigeneia Lella, ENISA Cyber Security Officer, attracted the attention of the audience for a number of reasons, not least the trends in cybersecurity it identified: ransomware has been assessed as the prime threat; cybercriminals are increasingly motivated by monetization of their activities, while cryptocurrency remains the most common pay-out method for threat actors; last year the volume of crypto jacking infections attained a record high, while malware declined; during the COVID-19 vigorous e-mail attacks and healthcare sector related data breaches increased manifold in parallel with a spike in non-malicious incidents caused by errors of unexperienced users; also, in 2021 the Distributed Denial of Service campaigns became more targeted, more persistent and increasingly multisector.
Against this background the competent governmental organizations have stepped up their efforts at both national and international level. However, the role of the expert community and civil society acquires decisive importance. Such a conclusion was illustrated by the panel of leaders of professionals’ organizations that gathered for the first time to form a Cyber Club in Bulgaria. The event was described in the program as unpanel and titled Elastic Resources: The Vibrant Cyber Communities in Bulgaria. Speakers included: Anton Puliiski, ETIC – Emerging Technologies Integration Cluster and United Drone Community; Pavel Georgiev, Cyber Security Talks Bulgaria; Boris Simandoff, DEV BG / Informational Transparency Initiative; Miglen Evlogiev, Defense Institute (EDF Cyber project); and Pavel Ivanov, Executive Director at the Institute for Public Administration. The importance of the contribution of the professional associations was clearly illustrated last year with the updating of the National Cybersecurity Strategy ‘Cyber resilient Bulgaria 2023’ that has to be prolonged at least to 2030.
The same is true for the EU regulations. The Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive, the first piece of EU-wide legislation on cybersecurity, was established to create a safe cyber environment on the continent. It is soon to be supplemented by NIS 2, designed to strengthen the security requirements, streamline reporting obligations, and introduce more stringent supervisory measures and stricter enforcement requirements, including harmonised sanctions across the European Union.
The political connotations to the AI N’ Cyber Conference 2022 implied a focus on the situation in Ukraine and the cyber resilience of critical infrastructure there. The topic was introduced by Kira Rudyk, MP, People’s Deputy of Ukraine, who before starting her political career, worked for Ukrainian and American IT industries.
Many participants in the conference, donors and implementers alike, including Software Company, are acutely aware of the urgent need to boost the capacity of Ukrainian government agencies, research institutes and academia to anticipate and defer cyber-attacks that go hand-in-hand with the continuing military campaigns in the southern parts of the country. Hence the necessity of externally supported projects to help overcome individual and institutional cybersecurity vulnerabilities of the research communities, and to share best practices for strengthening knowledge security, and controlling intangible technological transfers. The AI N’ Cyber Conference 2022 proved that Bulgarian IT experts can make a substantial contribution to the successful implementation of such international projects.