By Prof. Oliver Popov, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University
In 2008, Poland and Sweden recognised the need for a forum for wider discussions between EU and its Eastern European neighbours and conceived the Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative. The areas identified, such as strategies and cooperation in economy, academia, trade, travel were complemented with a variety of topics: democracy, stability, social prosperity and internationalisation.
The Swedish Institute (SI), involved in this initiative, aims to develop further relations between Sweden (and hence EU), the countries in the Baltic Sea region and the immediate neighbours that participate in the EaP (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) to work on the challenges identified in the EU strategy.
One of these challenges is the internationalisation and collaboration between various academic institutions with the purpose to establish sustainable, responsive and standardised educational and research platforms. In particular, this is central to areas of common interest such as cybersecurity which affects all sectors of contemporary digital societies, including critical infrastructures.
Hence, seven partners from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Poland, Sweden and Ukraine decided to take part in the initiative funded by the Swedish Institute in order to improve cybersecurity education in their respective countries.
The participating partners:
- Baku Higher Oil School (BHOS) and Azerbaijan State Oil and Industry University (ASOIU), Azerbaijan
- the University of Georgia and the Georgian Research and Education Networking Association (GRENA), Georgia
- the National Center for Nuclear Research (NCBJ), Poland
- Stockholm University, Sweden
- the National Aerospace University “KhAI”, Ukraine.
The CyberEDU project
The principal objective of the CyberEDU project is to establish a network of cybersecurity experts to increase awareness, knowledge and practices in cybersecurity programmes at all educational partner institutions.
The main activities of the project include:
- Exploring current state of cybersecurity education at the partner universities involved in the project.
- Identifying the needs of industry through collaboration of all partners.
- Enhancing cybersecurity education by introducing the acquired knowledge and expectations of students and industry.
- Creating and running an online course module, “Cybersecurity of critical infrastructures” as an introduction for a complete novel cybersecurity education curriculum to be developed in the future.
- Raising awareness about the role of cybersecurity for the protection of national critical infrastructures and industrial control systems by organising and actively participating in the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme Advanced Research Workshop and training to be held in Eastern Partnership countries.
The project leader Professor Oliver Popov from the Department of Computer and Systems Sciences of Stockholm University, comments: “All project partners have a keen interest in modern cybersecurity education and in creating a network to support it. Cybersecurity is an integral part of the national strategies in each of the partner countries and the EU Digital Agenda, and the EaP countries are eager to collaborate and partner with the EU. The overarching spirit of the project is internationalization, which advocates learning through friendly collaboration, complementary needs and competence, and different inter-cultural perspectives.”
Professor Ramaz Kvatadze, CEO of GRENA concludes: “Cybersecurity is one of the key directions of GRENA’s activities and its importance is constantly rising. In the context of the CyberEDU project, GRENA, together with the University of Georgia, is participating in the assessment of the current status of cybersecurity education in the country’s universities, whilst also gathering information to assess industry needs in Georgia. GRENA is also responsible for organising the Computer Emergency Response Teams CERTs training for EaP countries.”
NATO SPS ARW The NATO SPS ARW, a three-day intensive workshop under the direction of Dr. Jacek Gajewski from the National Centre for Nuclear Research in Poland, will be held in Baku. This workshop is directly linked to the objectives of the CyberEDU project and will cover the following areas of cybersecurity: • Cybersecurity education – programmes and laboratories • ICS/PLC/SCADA testbeds and research facilities • vulnerability analysis, testing, and risk management • intrusion detection, mitigation and prevention • digital forensics for ICS/PLCs • cybersecurity of critical infrastructures. The workshop's principal goal is to strengthen and foster efforts by institutions and organisations in Azerbaijan and EaP countries in building cybersecurity capabilities, primarily graduate education and research. An integral part of the initiative is to encourage and assist Azerbaijani industry in adopting novel, efficient and effective technologies that will generate and preserve the protection, safety and resilience of the country’s critical industrial infrastructure.