In recent years, Australia has emerged as a regional leader in conversations surrounding cyber resilience in the Indo-Pacific as well as globally. The new 2021 International Cyber and Critical Tech Strategy
constitutes one of the most comprehensive documents of its kind, with “secure, resilient, and trusted technology” representing a crucial objective. Key initiatives include enhanced protections for critical infrastructure
and systems of national significance, as well as greater support for businesses
and individuals to develop their cybersecurity resilience. In the past three years, Australian cyber diplomats have brokered a series of bilateral partnerships in the form of cyber Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs); currently there are agreements with India (2020), Indonesia (2018), Papua New Guinea (2018), Singapore (2020), and Thailand (2019), all of which include capacity-building and information-sharing elements. On a regional level, the country is chairing the Asia-Pacific CERT community and the Asia-Pacific cybersecurity operations network. Australians have also significantly extended their regional outreach through their flagship capacity-building initiative, the Cyber and Critical Technology Cooperation Program
. Meanwhile, Australia participates in several multipartite initiatives with a strong cyber component such as the Structured Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the eponymous Quad) along with India, Japan, and the US, and the tripartite AUKUS coalition along with the US and the UK. In international fora, Australia has been a vocal champion
of increased international collaboration in cyber capacity building (CCB), welcoming
references to further cooperation within the 2021 OEWG report but cautioning
against limiting such cooperation to the protection of national, translational and supranational infrastructure. Australia has also argued
that CCB should be mainstreamed into the larger development agenda of the UN, specifically the Sustainable Development Goals.
The EU places great importance on cyber resilience and capacity building. Internally, the Union has built a robust legal acquis in relation to the resilience of critical infrastructures, the cornerstone of which rests upon the 2016 Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive and the 2013 and 2019 Cybersecurity Acts. This legal meshwork seeks to integrate cybersecurity into all elements of the supply chain and introduce soft law mechanisms like the EU cybersecurity certification scheme. In doing so, it harmonises national cybersecurity capabilities, cross-border collaboration and the supervision of critical sectors across the EU.
In the coming months, the Commission intends to add upon the existing cyber-acquis by introducing an array of new initiatives, such as the updated NIS Directive (the so-called NIS2), a proposal on a Critical Entities Resilience (CER) Directive, and a plan to launch a network of Security Operations Centres across the Union. The aim is to create a Union-wide ‘cybersecurity shield’ that will facilitate the detection of cyberattacks and provide an impetus for proactive action.
This internal buildup of capabilities is supplemented by the development of a specialised ‘cyber diplomacy toolbox’ that allows the Union and its Member States to address cyber incidents through various joint policies, from cooperation and stabilisation measures to restrictive measures and attribution.
In recent years, Albania has significantly expanded its capacity-building activities, modernising both the relevant institutional apparatus and the diplomatic outreach accompanying it. Since 2017, ALCIRT, Albania’s national CSIRT, has been given an expanded mandate and merged with the National Authority for Electronic Certification and Cyber Security (AKCESK). AKCESK is responsible for preparing strategic documents relating to cybersecurity, drafting legislation, collaborating with relevant stakeholders (international organisations, civil society organisations, the private sector) and providing training. [x
] Through AKCESK, Albania has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with several regional national CERTs (Kosovo, North Macedonia, Romania) and is currently negotiating similar MoUs with Serbia, Montenegro, Cyprus, and Slovenia. [x
] AKCESK also frequently collaborates with the Council of Europe in relation to incident response and awareness training. [x
] As a member of NATO, Albania signed the MoU with the NATO Cyber Incident Response Centre (NCIRC) on enhancing cyber defence in 2013 [x
] and has participated in numerous NATO-led training initiatives, including the flagship Cyber Coalition exercise. Meanwhile, increased emphasis has been placed on the protection of critical infrastructure, with a 2015 government paper stating that future actions will be focused on “the protection and resilience capacity of critical infrastructure” and on “encouraging operators that own them to implement a full security architecture (including risk management and emergencies)”. [x
] In 2020, Albania adopted its first-ever cybersecurity regulation for the electricity sector, which establishes incident reporting and assessment criteria for electricity operators. [x
] This was reportedly only the first of many planned initiatives intended to reduce the country’s cyber vulnerabilities and increase trust in digital services.