NATO strengthens Bosnia and Herzegovina’s cyber defences: sees Russia and China as potential threats
Although not usually thought of by most ordinary citizens, the internet, semiconductors and digital technology are increasingly becoming a national security issue and an unavoidable topic in the formulation of security strategies.
This is why NATO recognised cyberspace in 2016 as an operational area where the Alliance needs to develop defence mechanisms, as it does in the “classical” sense when it comes to land, sea and air defence.
Indeed, in July 2016, NATO Allies made a commitment to strengthen defence in cyberspace as one of their priority areas. At the 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels, which was also attended by the BiH dailies Nezavisne novine and Oslobođenje, NATO agreed to establish a Cyber Defence Centre, and it was also decided that NATO would use the cyber capabilities of individual member states in order to be able to work together more effectively to combat these threats.
In February 2019, the Allies started to implement these decisions at operational level, and cooperation with the EU was established through the Technical Agreement on Cyber Defence. One of the measures is to strengthen cooperation with industry, i.e. companies producing essential components or software and other related areas.
“Allies use NATO as a platform for policy consultations, share concerns about malicious activities and exchange national approaches and responses, while considering common responses as NATO promotes a free, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace,” they stressed.
On the other hand, BiH is extremely inactive when it comes to this important area of national security. With the exception of the Republika Srpska, which has adopted some documents in this area, BiH does not have an adequate legal framework or state capacity to effectively protect against cyber threats. Given that NATO sees Russia and China as a potential threat to cyberspace in BiH, the alliance adopted an assistance package for BiH at the Madrid Summit last year, the implementation of which has begun these days.
NATO HQ in Brussels confirmed that this area is part of the assistance package and that the goal is to make the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the country as a whole more resilient to cyber threats.
“For example, assistance will be offered through the NATO Defence Capacity Building Mechanism for BiH on medical evacuation, communication equipment for ground and air forces, training, crisis management, cyber defence and counter-terrorism,” they stressed.
The issue of cyber protection, as well as the fight against fake news, has become even more topical since Donald Trump became US President, as suspicions have emerged that Russian actors not only influenced his election as President, but also created a whole series of social media pages that influenced public opinion.
In the US, all security agencies have been involved in investigations into these phenomena and charges have been brought. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner paramilitary group, which is taking part in the war in Ukraine on the side of Russia, is among those who have been mentioned as part of the network of creating discord in the US by creating fake news. Last November, when asked by a journalist, Prigozhin admitted that he had taken part in these activities.
“I will answer your question very subtly and I apologise for introducing some vagueness. Gentlemen, we have interfered, we are interfering and we will interfere. Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how,” he said at the time.
He then goes on to say that disinformation is defined as the deliberate creation and distribution of false or manipulated information with the intent to mislead and deceive.
“Disinformation is used to deepen divisions between allies and to undermine trust in elected governments. The Alliance has been confronted with these issues since its inception and has been active in countering the significant growth of disinformation and propaganda since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in Ukraine in 2014,” they say./Oslobođenje.ba/