Interviews Security

The first steps for the North Macedonian CIRT: Interview with Prof. Sonja Filiposka

Top view from Vodno mountain on Skopje city, North Macedonia.

The CIRT of the Faculty Computer Science of the University of Skopje was founded 2.5 years ago as the result of a cybersecurity exercise which brought to light the need to raise cyber security awareness and coordinate the response to potential cyber security attacks.

The CIRT’s objective is to raise awareness among students and within the faculty. Students tend to focus primarily on their assignments and their results, less on security. The CIRT aims to underline the importance of all security and privacy aspects.

The University’s teaching environment is mostly digital. Teaching platforms and cloud-based services require the storage of private and possibly confidential data. Digital services are also available for faculty staff” says Professor Sonja Filiposka, head of FINKI CIRT.

Focus on privacy

“Although North Macedonia is not part of the EU we are keen to align with regard to the GDPR legislation in order to facilitate cooperation. Our CIRT coordinates the implementation of laws and policies for everyone.”

…and awareness

We haven’t experienced any major attacks towards the faculty since CIRT was established. Most attacks are phishing, but lately we have noticed that they are becoming more and more sophisticated. A specific password policy enables to avoid identity theft or identity exchange on students.

The students of the Faculty of Computer Science are playing an important role to raise cyber security awareness especially via their student club. The CIRT manages a webpage with an RSS feed to keep them informed of the latest news and trends in cyber security. Students keep the page up-to-date by reporting all the incidents they come across. There is a plan to extend awareness towards other faculties via the Computer Science Faculty’s student club to other faculty clubs.

Information sharing is the key”, concludes Professor Filiposka, “among students, between students and the CIRT and vice versa”.

See also: From phishing to CIRT: How the first academic CIRT was established in North Macedonia

Sonja Filiposka, head of the FINKI-CIRT, is a professor at the Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, North Macedonia. She obtained her PhD in technical sciences in 2009 at the Faculty of Information Technologies and Electrical Engineering, specialising in the field of computer networking. Working in academia since 2003, she has been an active participant in a number of EU funded infrastructure and research projects focusing on cloud and networking services and is part of the GEANT community since GN3+ on behalf of MARnet. Her main interests include wireless networks, edge computing, orchestration and cybersecurity.

Read more on the GÉANT Cyber Security Month 2020:

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