The Basque Cybersecurity Centre (BCSC), has inaugurated its new installations today, in the presence of the Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu and three members of his government: the ministers responsible for Economic Development and Infrastructures (Arantxa Tapia), Education (Cristina Uriarte) and Security (Estefanía Beltrán de Heredia). Also present was the Deputy Minister for Administration and General Services (Nerea López-Uribarri), representing the Department of Public Governance and Self-Government. The Centre Director, Javier Diéguez, was responsible for showing the visitors around the premises, located in the Alava Technology Park, and explaining the details of how the centre works.
The important institutional presence at the presentation ceremony demonstrates the Basque Government's commitment with this initiative which is part of the Grupo SPRI and whose objective is to generate a culture of cybersecurity in the Basque Country. To this end, the Lehendakari highlighted the fact that this technological project is fundamental in guaranteeing the global security of Basque businesses which are increasingly digital and international. The Lehendakari added that, "this is a professional and highly skilled project. A nucleus of intelligence working in the interests of security and, therefore, competitiveness."
The BCSC has been in operation since October 2017 and its main aims are to strengthen and boost activity in the business sector related to cybersecurity; to position the Basque Country as an international benchmark in the matter; and to promote a culture of IT security within Basque society. In fact, after only nine months, the Basque Cybersecurity Centre is leading public-private collaboration initiatives both locally and inter-regionally throughout Europe, and has been recognised as a meeting point for local cybersecurity suppliers and consumers. Bearing this in mind, the Lehendakari indicated that he would like to generate a competitive environment to attract potential investors and technologies capable of serving global markets. He went on to say that "we have the potential to convert the Basque Country into a European hub for Cybersecurity."
Alongside this business venture the BCSC has also set up a response team to tackle IT attacks which might put both Basque companies and the general public at risk. They are working closely with the Ertzaintza to develop tools to help beat cybercrime and in fact the Basque police force has a room of its own and a team of agents permanently stationed at the Centre.
From an educational and training perspective, the Basque Cybersecurity Centre has a laboratory dedicated to developing innovative projects and, as well as its own staff, collaborates with researchers from the technological corporation Tecnalia, from Vicomtech (multi-media technology), Ikerlan (industrial innovation and BCAM (applied mathematics), in addition to liaising with a cybersecurity technician from the Basque Government IT body, EJIE. This team will shortly be joined by three IT students on a dual internship.
What is more, the BCSC is collaborating on the design and evolution of educational programmes for the teaching sector, on implementing awareness-raising initiatives on the risks arising from the misuse of new technologies, and on organising activities to help with the prevention, identification and response to situations caused by an irresponsible use of new technologies by young people.
Commitment to responsible government and industrial aid
The BCSC is not in competition with other companies operating in this sector and nor does it wish to duplicate existing services, but instead upholds a commitment to contribute to the exercise of responsible government within the framework of a new context which challenges the industry's competitive and innovative capacity, and threatens citizens' rights. The Centre is present on the boards concerned with competitive intelligence of 11 sector clusters across the Basque Country and collaborates with business associations and chambers of commerce in order to promote business awareness initiatives on this matter. The BCSC also works closely with other relevant agents in Basque Public Administration, such as Izenpe, the Basque Agency for Data Protection and Eustat, as well as professional and citizens' associations operating in the Basque Country.
Coordinating with other similar bodies operating across the country and abroad has become a clear vocation for the Basque Cybersecurity Centre since the outset. To this end, next autumn will see it become a full member of FIRST (Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams), the most important IT incident response team in the world.
The Centre is a member of the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO), where it participates in several working groups which are key for the Basque Country, such as the Infrastructure Investment group (WG2), the Regions and SMEs group (WG4) and the Education and Training group (WG5). This forum has also produced a partner in the shape of the Region of Brittany, and together they have set up various joint projects to develop regional skills in Cybersecurity.
In its first nine months, the Basque Cybersecurity Centre has become the benchmark for cybersecurity for industries and companies in Álava, Biscay and Guipuzcoa, and has set up five laboratories to promote the cybersecuirty node of the Basque Digital Innovation Hub. This initiative will enable the Centre to offer a business support service, win recognition as a meeting point between local suppliers and consumers, lead public-private collaboration initiatives on a local and inter-regional scale, and support entrepreneurship in the field.
At the same time, and thanks to the BCSC, Grupo SPRI has launched the first aid programme targeting IT security in the field of industry. It is a programme which specifically addresses projects tackling the convergence and integration of cyber-attack protection systems for IT/OT (Information Technology/Operational Technology) environments in the manufacturing industry. In reference to this, the Lehendakari pointed out that this is "a vital Centre for the future of Industry 4.0: an advanced and connected industry that requires cybernetic environments which are secure and responsive." The public initiative has a funding of 600,000 Euros and is to finance 50% of the expenses related to, and investment in hardware, software and consultancy and/or engineering costs, with a limit of an 18,000 Euro subsidy per company.
Cybersecurity in the world, the State and the Basque Country
Globally, the average amount of money companies budget for cybersecurity has almost doubled since 2012, rising from 2.8 to 5.1 million dollars. In Spain, investment averages 3.9 million dollars, driven by the fact that in recent years, businesses, and specifically companies, have undertaken a serious process of digitalisation.
Last year the Instituto Nacional de Ciberseguridad (INCIBE - National Cybersecurity Institute) resolved 123,064 cybersecurity incidents, 6.77% up on 2016. They estimate that each cyberattack has an average cost of 75,000 Euros - costing Spanish companies approximately 14,000 million in 2017.
Over the 2017 fiscal year, the economic damage to companies in the Basque Country from cyberattacks is estimated at around 840 million. 9,127 complaints of cybercrime were reported, nearly 20% more than the previous year. In the first 6 months of this year, 6,041 complaints of cybercrime have already been reported.