EU-Ukraine align cybersecurity policies enhancing resilience

The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) is partnering with Ukraine to focus on bolstering cybersecurity measures and awareness amid threats

ENISA has formalised a working arrangement with Ukraine counterparts that focuses on capacity-building, an exchange of best practices and boosting situational awareness.

The working arrangement aims to build on the cyber discussion initiated last year in Warsaw during the EU-Ukraine Cybersecurity Dialogue and will be a key item at the next Dialogue. The partnership was signed by ENISA, the National Cybersecurity Coordination Centre (NCCC) and the Administration of the State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine (SSSCIP) on the Ukrainian side.

In the midst of rising nation-state cyberattacks, the need for robust cybersecurity measures has never been more critical.

Global cybersecurity cooperation to protect nations

In July 2023, it was reported that Ukraine was being hugely threatened by digital campaigns against government entities, military organisations and civilians. In the midst of the Russia-Ukraine war, it was judged that these operations are consistently aiming to steal information and gain persistent remote access to Ukrainian services.

Plenty of big technology companies have come to the aid of Ukraine as a result. The Financial Times reported at the time that Cisco Talos, as well as Microsoft and Dragos, took on contracts to help the country keep its digital assets safe. Last year, Microsoft technicians noticed a single computer behaving oddly in Ukraine and alerted engineers in the Kyiv suburb, ultimately preventing a cyberattack.

The arrangement between ENISA and SSSCIP Ukraine is very broad, covering short-term structured cooperation actions whilst paving the way for longer-term alignment of cybersecurity policies and approaches to implementation.

Cooperation will be sought in the areas of cyber awareness and capacity building, which will aim to enhance cyber resilience. This will include the proposal of participating third country representatives in specific EU-wide cybersecurity exercises or training and possible secondment arrangements, as well as the sharing and promotion of cyber awareness tools and programmes.

Best practice exchange will ensure the alignment of legislation and implementation, including on key cyber legislation implementation such as NIS2, in addition to sectors such as telecommunications and energy.

Furthermore, the sharing of knowledge and information in relation to the cybersecurity threat landscape aims to increase common situational awareness for both stakeholders and communities. 

Finding new methods to prevent catastrophic cyberattacks

Cyberattacks are based on opportunism, where hackers identify weaknesses in a computer system's defences with the goal of capitalising on them. In a context such as this, large-scale attacks aim to disable a nation’s protective measures.

According to Netscout, nearly eight million distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks were identified in the first half of 2023, as bad actors continued to find and weaponise new methods of attack. At the time, it suggested that global events like the Russia-Ukraine war are part of the rise for this recent DDoS attack growth.

Microsoft has suggested that cyberattacks have impacted more than 120 countries worldwide, with government-sponsored spying and influence operations having risen. The first quarter of 2023 also saw a dramatic surge in password-based attacks against cloud identities from around 3 billion per month to over 30 billion.

ENISA Executive Director, Juhan Lepassaar, says: “The widespread use of cyberattacks in Russia’s war of aggression has been met with a fierce and resilient defence by our Ukrainian partners. It has also greatly increased our own levels of alertness and preparations in the EU. 

“We are looking forward to implementing this Working Arrangement – ENISA’s first with a partner from outside the EU – in an effort to boost a higher common level of cybersecurity across Europe and as a contribution to the EU’s continuing support for Ukraine.”

Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine and the Head of the National Cyber Security Coordination Centre, says: “This is a historic day for our nation and definitely an important step on the Ukrainian way to the European Union. Cooperation with ENISA opens up new opportunities for strengthening cooperation in the field of cyber security and sharing best practices with EU states. 

“What is especially important now, when Ukraine is at the forefront of the global cyber war, which the Russian Federation is waging. Joining our efforts will strengthen the European cyber security system, and Ukraine will participate in the formation of strategic approaches and development of new policies in the field of cyber security and cyber defence at the international level.”

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