This article provides an overview of maturity levels and assessment methodologies for the evaluation of cybersecurity and resilience in relation to their applicability and usefulness at sectoral and national levels. Reference maturity models and assessment frameworks, such as CERT Resilience Management Model, Cybersecurity Capacity Maturity Model for Nations, C2M2 (Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model) are compared and analyzed for their applicability in designing and implementing national cybersecurity strategies and programs to achieve cyber resilience. Cyber readiness indexes are also outlined in view of their use to indicate possible improvements. The author explores the development of national cybersecurity strategies with focus on cyber maturity and provides examples. A maturity-based approach for the Bulgarian cyber resilience roadmap is also described within the context of the evolving cyber-empowered hybrid threats and the need for an institutionalized collaborative public-private resilience.
The concept of resilience has roots in many disciplines, making the pursuit of a unified theory very attractive but also very difficult. Yet this has not stopped scholars and politicians from attempting to claim resilience as their flagship concept and build a canon for the 21st century around it. This tendency to reduce or totalize resilience has spawned a host of taxonomies, each seeking to offer the final word on the definitional debate. I argue that this desire to create a unified theory of resilience misapplies the concept, ignores the dynamics of its emergence and the polysemic nature of its use in theory, policy and practice. This malleability makes resilience at once both a very attractive logic for dealing with uncertainty and a dangerous pathway towards embedding untempered algorithmic systems of coercive prediction into the governance of everyday life. In understanding the emergence of the resilience concept, one must appreciate both the positive and negative potential of this flexible and adaptive notion. I close by suggesting that resilience has gained such traction in recent years in no small part because it represents a shift in the onto-politics of our time, but that we must be careful about which type of resilience gets enacted.
Serbia, the largest country of the Western Balkans, faces a historical choice concerning its future political orientation. Although this choice has been on the agenda since the late 1990s, it will remain unresolved for some time to come. The country’s transformation has been moving forward. However, short of integration in western institutions, first of all in the European Union, the process is incomplete and other major players in the international system, first of all Russia but to some extent also China, attempt to influence Belgrade in a direction favorable to their interest. Rational choices in regard to economic integration, trade and investment, and the effects of consolidating democracy should drive Serbia in the direction of the West. However, as demonstrated by some cases, there are factors other than rational choice. Emotional association with Russia, orthodox Christianity, the Russian backing of Serbia in the dispute of the latter with Kosovo, as well as Moscow’s sophisticated influence playing on the West’s step-by-step advancement and hesitation help Russia better establish itself in Serbia. That results in an inconclusive situation that requires attention to avoid the continuation of hesitancy and uncertainty in the long run. China potentially offers an alternative, primarily as a trade partner and investor. However, its interests in Serbia’s future orientation may be different from Moscow’s as its investments may offer higher returns if Belgrade becomes a member of the European Union sooner rather than later.
Deterrence theory has since its inception justified the build-up and maintenance of weapons arsenals assumingly guaranteeing our survival. However, we do not know whether deterrence theory works in practice: major wars may have been avoided for many other reasons than fear of punishment or (other) high costs. Skepticism towards cyber deterrence is used to justify unilateral, punitive, even preventive, pre-emptive, or continuous action against assumed adversaries. Nuclear weapons-centric deterrence, stressing the avoidance of reckless state behavior, could be improved to face the contemporary, technology-infused realities, where zero-tolerance of error or incidents, vital in the nuclear realm, is not realistic. As a result, we have come to accept or denounce cyber operations based on their targets and effects. As a contribution to achieving responsible state behavior in cyberspace, the author suggests utilizing cost calculation, the underlying assumption of deterrence theory, to the fullest: to include the promise of rewards in our policy options.
Cross-domain Coercion as Russia’s Endeavor to Weaken the Eastern Flank of NATO: A Latvian Case Study
Cross-domain coercion is tangible on NATO’s Eastern flank and characterized by the use of derogatory propaganda, fake news, financial assets in the Latvian banking system, Russian-based organized crime, and various military elements. This study on cross-domain coercion, however, concentrates also on the cohesion of the Latvian population, existing gaps within society, and its susceptibility to being exploited by Russia. To acquire data for this study, the author conducted interviews with representatives of the Eastern flank countries and performed an extensive literature review. To determine the root causes of vertical division in the society, the “5 WHYs” method was used. This research has proved that the presence of a Russian minority and the Russian-based organized crime minority can be a good base to create unrest and that Russia is able to influence the internal policy of a country when the Russian economic footprint exceeds 12 % of GDP. The demographics and the cohesion (including vertical and horizontal divisions) of the society are factors determining the resistance of Latvia. The triumph of the populist parties during the October 2018 parliamentary elections reflect the trend that the nation is tired of the corrupt and ineffective government rather than that it is drifting towards Russia. In a broader scope, it is expected that cross-domain coercion will increase and Russia will test the cohesion of NATO.
Energy is an integral part of all branches of the economy and social sphere, with a special role in ensuring the security of the development of modern society. Therefore, energy infrastructure has become a critical component of the hybrid war. Destructive cyber bullying in it is accompanied, as a rule, by chain effects and synergistic effects that systematically influence and cover all other spheres of the life of society and the state, both in ordinary and, especially, in critical conditions. The authors systematically and comprehensively analyzed and present in this article the results of investigations of the features of destructive cyber defects in the national energy sector of Ukraine and the ways of counteracting and protecting critical energy infrastructure.
These policy recommendations reflect the findings of the First Virtual Meeting on “The Western Balkan Countries in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” convened by the PfP Consortium Study Group “Regional Stability in Southeast Europe,” 28 May 2020. The article includes a number of tangible suggestions for Western Balkan governments, as well as for the EU, EU member states and NATO decision-makers on how to confront the coronavirus and security-related challenges in Southeast Europe.
The article examines the short- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The temporary shutdown of economies around the world has disrupted global supply chains, which has caused major delays in BRI infrastructure projects and increased the costs. For the time being, China and BRI partner countries will have to divert attention and resources to fighting the spread of the virus and providing relief for their economies. Thus, a serious slowdown for the BRI is inevitable. However, the long-term consequences are still uncertain at this point and will depend, to a large degree, on how long Corona will set back the world economy. China seems determined to carry on with the BRI no matter what, but the question arises if China’s economy will recover quickly enough and if Beijing has the financial reserves to keep up the high level of commitment and support for the BRI. If China manages to sustain the BRI throughout the pandemic, Corona can open up opportunities to use “mask diplomacy” and BRI healthcare infrastructure projects to increase Beijing’s global standing and the local acceptance for the BRI. Given the changed circumstances, BRI countries are well advised to review their participation in the BRI by giving due consideration to the short-term and possible long-term effects. They should consider if they can still afford these infrastructure projects even if they take longer to finish, are more expensive and generate a smaller economic impact.
Soon after the first instance of COVID-19 in Central Asia was recorded in March 2020 in Kazakhstan, the government took immediate steps to introduce containment and mitigation measures. As cases of COVID-19 appeared soon after in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and later in Tajikistan, the governments swiftly responded, instituting emergency measures, empowering law enforcement and medical authorities to implement a broad range of counter-infection mitigation measures to protect public health. Cross-border travel restrictions were imposed. Lockdowns and sheltering-in-place restrictions were imposed in most major cities and curfews were enforced. Routine commercial air flights were cancelled or significantly reduced in international airports and many domestic airports. New levels of visa restrictions were implemented in all the Central Asian countries. The initial infection containment measures were highly successful in curtailing the early spread of Covid-19. But governments immediately confronted a broad range of social and economic difficulties brought on by Covid-19. The sudden interruption of typical earnings and livelihoods for many people, the disruption of commercial supply chains, the cratering of commodity prices, and, for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in particular, the loss of migrant labor opportunities and remittances, combined with other consequences of Covid-19 to produce a region-wide economic catastrophe. The pandemic called for immediate steps on the part of all the government of the region and focused attention on addressing the long-term social, economic, and even regional political implications.
Covid-19 has spared no region of the world’s Global South and Global North. For obvious reasons, countries in the Global South are especially hard hit. This includes MENA, as most of its countries and societies belong to the Global South. The outcomes of perennial poverty, authoritarianism, corruption, and other serious long-term deficiencies mean that this virus hit societies extremely ill-prepared to mobilize the tremendous efforts needed to counter not only the immediate but also the immense future challenges. As long-term governance deficiencies and the new challenges emanating from COVID-19 are mutually reinforcing each other, finding and implementing sustainable solutions for the future becomes even more difficult – and more urgently needed. This prospect cannot remain without implications for the whole Mediterranean region – and for Europe. European-MENA partnerships are more needed than ever. In order to be effective, these partnerships need to include many new stakeholders; they need to be based on trust and on the principle that responsibility for regional, national, and especially for human security has to be shared.
In the current pandemic crisis, the armed forces of many nations are being called upon to provide assistance and support to the civil authorities in an ever-expanding fashion. This article explores the kinds of roles, missions, tasks, and functions that the armed forces are carrying out in this crisis and identifies a number of policy considerations for decision-makers to ponder when they consider tasking the armed forces to provide these services.
Military organizations are often called upon to contribute with specific capabilities or to enhance the civilian response capacity in an emergency at home, in particular, when urgent action in a high-risk environment is needed. The emergency related to the Covid-19 pandemic was not an exception. The Bulgarian armed forces have already made an important and highly visible contribution and are prepared to perform additional tasks assigned through the new emergency law. Both the society and the political elites appreciate this military involvement, and ideas for new civil security tasks have emerged. Based on the analysis of legal and doctrinal documents and the responses to an interview, this article provides an overview of the domestic tasks of the Bulgarian armed forces prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, new tasks assigned during the pandemic and the possibilities for and the caveats in the further expansion of the spectrum of domestic tasks. The opinions of 41 respondents in the interviews are almost equally split. A slight majority suggests further expansion of the domestic tasks, serving as a back-up, and building on high-tech capabilities the armed forces already possess or plan to develop. The remaining respondents call for exercising caution, assuring that the military contribution is effective and efficient, and reconsidering the newly assigned coercive tasks. The article also presents the decision-making context, shaped by long-delayed modernization, limited budget, and the severe shortage of personnel. This is the context in which policy-makers need to find an adequate balance between defense and civil support roles and capabilities.