Kosovo must increase investments in cyber security and data protection

Prishtina, October 30,2020 – Cyber threats affect the ability to operate, the reputation, as well as the very existence of businesses. The private sector should pay special attention to designing and implementing cybersecurity practices, customer data protection, intellectual property, and critical infrastructure. These, among other things, were said during a workshop organized by the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo and the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo, during which data protection, trusted vendors, cybersecurity, and information privacy were discussed.

Valerie Tucker, Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo and at the same time moderator of this virtual workshop, stated that with the signing of the 5G Network Memorandum of Cooperation between Kosovo and the U.S., Kosovo has taken a very important step towards preserving national security, human rights, intellectual property and personal data, today and in the future.

Agim Bekaj, Country Representative at Microsoft emphasized that in regards to the cyber aspect, one of the biggest challenges in Kosovo is the high piracy rate as well as the use of illegal software. According to him, Microsoft, having followed the digital transformation of learning processes, has committed to protecting children and their data by offering a safe and free of charge platform for continuation of learning processes. Furthermore, invited all businesses to use could services, and highlighted that one of the most efficient ways to avoid cyber threats is through investing in identity and data protection.

Andrej Petreski, Country Leader at Cisco – North Macedonia & Kosovo stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the information and technology department within businesses, ergo, their advancement is imperative. According to Petreski, although major corporations are often aware of how important protection against cyberattacks is, small companies which are more prone to cyberattacks require investments in defense systems and data centers.

Ashken Adili, Chief Technology Officer at Cacttus, stated that among the first steps to take to ensure protection against various cyber-attacks are investing in trusted vendors, establishing information protection systems and maintaining them all the time. Adili also pointed out that as a young country, Kosovo is subject to cyber risks and there is a highlighted need for investment in data protection education, especially among the youth.

Tanzer Abazi, Founder and General Manager of FindBug, stressed that in Kosovo there is a significant lack of knowledge regarding data management, as well as protection of company networks, issues for which FindBug has received several assistance requests from various sectors. Abazi further stressed the need for greater investment by the state in ensuring data privacy and the overall cyber security sector.

Drinor Selmanaj, CEO of Cyber Academy, stressed that digitalization driven by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has created opportunities for cyber-attacks, thus motivating companies to react and invest in this direction. Referring to the progress made in the global cyber sector, he also mentioned the advancement of attacks on critical infrastructure carried out even against the most developed countries, in which case he stressed that it is necessary to create the appropriate protective structures for Kosovo.

Robert Shala, CEO of Sentry, stated that the lack of an insurance market for cyber risks is another barrier to the development of this sector. According to him, the existence of this market could help the development of businesses and stimulate the advancement of their data protection systems. Shala said that in terms of critical infrastructure, there are some gaps within telecommunications that need to be addressed, while emphasizing that it is necessary that the credibility of cyber service vendors is ensured, as this infrastructure serves for national data.