In the past year, the world has witnessed an unprecedented level of digitalization, as both professional and personal pursuits have moved to cyberspace to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, both ordinary internet users and security experts have quickly noticed that this trend was accompanied by the rise in serious threats stemming from cyberspace. Whether taking the form of ransomware, personal data theft, or online harassment, knowing how to take precautions and proactively defend ourselves and our networks against malicious actors is more important now than ever before.

To help raise awareness of such threats, and what can be done to prevent or reduce their impact, the OSCE is again joining the global initiative of Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

Throughout October, the OSCE will hold a series of online webinars and interactive activities, aimed at encouraging personal accountability, effective cyber hygiene in cyberspace, and the importance of empowering women and youth to meaningfully participate in the cybersecurity field. The webinars will also introduce participants to the vibrant and proactive community of cybersecurity professionals, industry leaders, and policymakers working every day to make the internet a safer place.

With its long-standing experience in helping ensure peace and security across three continents, the OSCE’s comprehensive approach to security extends to promoting trust and co-operation in cyberspace, and reducing risks of conflict that may come about from the use of information and communication technologies. During Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the OSCE will promote its flagship mechanism, the cyber/ICT security confidence-building measures, or CBMs, and their role in enhancing transparency, co-operation, communication and capacities throughout the OSCE area. CBMs are a key part of the framework for bolstering cyber stability around the world. By creating an atmosphere of trust and co-operation, they ensure that agreed-on norms of responsible state behaviour are followed, that the provisions of international law applied to cyberspace are respected and that efforts to build key capacities are grown.

The OSCE is a trailblazer in the field of adopting and implementing such CBMs. Since 2013, OSCE participating States have discussed and adopted sixteen individual Measures[1] that encourage States to work together to protect national critical infrastructures that societies rely on, exchange views and information on threats stemming from cyberspace and join the community of national cyber/ICT security focal points.

By participating in Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the OSCE’s commitments to combatting cybercrime, intolerance and violent extremism will be highlighted.

Cyberspace is increasingly used for violent extremist and terrorist recruitment. As part of the Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the #UnitedCVE campaign of the Leader’s Against Intolerance and Violent Extremism (LIVE) initiative will highlight the importance of online security in preventing violent extremism.

We will host training courses for criminal justice practitioners from Central Asia on the topic of combating cybercrime, handling digital evidence by first responders and investigating crimes facilitated by the use of Dark Web and virtual currencies. We can’t just focus on the outside world because security starts at home. Over the course of the month we will offer our OSCE staff in house webinars to raise awareness on cyber security and cyber hygiene and share best practices.

The OSCE’s success in promoting region-wide cyber security, resilience and capacities is owed in no small part to its network of field operations and offices, stretching from Central Asia to the Western Balkans.

Cyberspace is now part of the fabric of our societies and therefore must be part of how we comprehensively address security concerns. During this Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the OSCE recognises that a nuanced and multifaceted approach to addressing cyber threats is more important now than ever. From encouraging individual actions to improving personal accountability and effective cyber hygiene to facilitating transnational co-operation to protect our critical infrastructure, the OSCE is part of the cyber solution.

Find out more about what the OSCE is doing on this topic by visiting our Cyber/ICT Security page.