Cooperation was the key word at yesterday’s (10 April) Three Seas side event Cybersecurity, Resilience, Connectivity: Critical Infrastructure In 3 Seas.

Government officials across the Three Seas region – which includes much of Central and Eastern Europe – spoke alongside technology firms including Google, Microsoft and Amazon to stress the increasing risk of cyberattacks from global actors including China, Russia and Iran. Despite the disparate views on display, all parties were sure to encourage cooperation both between states and the public and private sectors.

“One state alone cannot build a fortress,” director of the National Cybersecurity Centre Lithuania Liudas Ališauskas explained, describing cyberspace as “another dimension” of warfare.

“We’re not only talking about the governmental sector […] we’re talking about critical infrastructure, which is about the different entities that are beyond the scope of the direct governmental sphere.”

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, the importance of securing critical infrastructure including energy, telecommunications and water has been drawn into sharp focus. Simion-Dorin Rusu, government affairs manager at Microsoft Romania, Baltics and CIS noted, however, that critical infrastructure attacks have been increasing since 2021. The global level jumped from 139 in 2020 to 628 in 2021. 2022 remained at a similar level, but this year Microsoft expects the number to be higher.

Another key point of concern raised by Rusu at the Vilnius event was the rise in deepfake and AI-based cyberattacks. In particular, he raised China’s usage of AI to attempt to influence the Taiwanese election earlier this year.

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“There was an avalanche of AI-infused technology with the speed and impact that we have never seen before,” Rusu said. “China is the first one to deploy something like this anywhere in the world. Although we knew it was coming and our tech people were preparing for this, the speed to which this is now evolving is quite breathtaking.”

His answer to this problem echoed the other speakers: “For us is very simple. To be honest. It’s to work together.”

Despite the air of collaboration, director of the Regional Cyber Defence Centre Inga Žukauskienė was unable to get guarantees of an expansion to the Lithuanian cybersecurity body during a panel discussion.