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The impact of artificial intelligence on cybersecurity, the protection of subsea cables from cyber threats and foreign interference, cyber warfare, and the fight against organized cybercriminal groups were the key topics of this year's Prague Cyber Security Conference (PCSC). The event, organized by the National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NÚKIB) in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, brought foreign guests and government officials from more than sixty countries to Prague, not only from European Union and NATO but also e.g. from Australia, Israel, South Korea, and Singapore. More than 300 visitors were listening with interest to panel discussions at the Congress Centre of the Czech National Bank on 19 and 20 March 2024.

The event was opened with a greeting recorded for the PCSC participants by the President of the Czech Republic, Petr Pavel: "The Prague Cyber Security Conference aims to stimulate debate and bring us closer together in addressing the challenges we face. I believe this discussion will contribute to the future of cybersecurity not only in the Czech Republic but the whole democratic world." President Pavel's speech was followed by a speech by European Commission Vice-President Eva Jourová, who highlighted the threat of malware and said that international cooperation is needed to strengthen cybersecurity. Anne Neuberger from the USA, Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology, also addressed the same topic in her speech, highlighting the International Counter Ransomware Initiative in the context of malware and thanking partners, including the Czech Republic, for being part of it.

The conference's guests were then personally welcomed by the Director of NÚKIB, Lukáš Kintr: "This conference represents more than just a series of discussions; it is a convergence of expertise and ideas focused on bolstering global cybersecurity resilience." In his speech, the Director of the Agency talked about the need to adapt to changes in the cybersecurity landscape: "The dramatically altered global security situation requires us to act now, for yesterday was already late. We must change our approach to dangerous actors and security to meet the new challenges in cyberspace. In light of the ever-evolving challenges, this conference serves as an important platform to discuss and share experiences and knowledge, promote international cooperation, and advocate for innovative solutions."

The discussion program began with a session in which participants recalled the 2019 Prague Proposals on 5G network security, five years since their creation and adoption, a significant milestone in global efforts to ensure the security of next-generation networks. Other panel discussions on both days focused on cyber and information security areas. Thus, the debates were exceptionally responsive to the growing diversity of threats in cyberspace and the emerging opportunities associated with the development of new technologies. For example, the security of subsea cables, which carry almost all internet data worldwide and whose potential damage could significantly affect the functioning of critical infrastructure, was discussed. Artificial intelligence was also a topic, and the Western world is now catching up with its development and looking for ways to address opportunities and risks associated with it. The discussion included the Artificial Intelligence Act, which was adopted by the European Union a few days ago.

One of the items on the agenda was cloud security, which has recently become one of the critical topics of transatlantic cooperation. Speakers on this panel brought different perspectives from both government and industry. There was also a discussion on post-quantum technologies. The security community is keenly aware that with the upcoming breakthrough in quantum computing, current encryption methods used to secure sensitive information will become potentially vulnerable, necessitating the development and transition to quantum-resistant cryptography. Therefore, the debate focused on strategies for post-quantum encryption, challenges related to timing and standardization, and opportunities for international collaboration between governments, research, and industry partners. The last panel focused on one of today's most significant cyber threats: ransomware, which requires a truly comprehensive approach to tackle. Evidence of the seriousness of this threat and the need to counter it includes a joint statement against ransom payments in ransomware attacks. The Czech Republic joined it along with more than 40 other countries in November 2023.

At the end of the conference, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský said: "Today, as we conclude the Prague Conference on Cyber Security, we see that critical infrastructure security is more urgent than ever. The cyber world is a battlefield where we face many challenges. Collaboration with like-minded partners is key to ensuring we do not lose the technology race. Another is working closely with the private sector. After all, we are all part of this effort to shape the future of a free and democratic world."

Cybersecurity can only be done through international cooperation, and conferences are an excellent opportunity to hold bilateral meetings - this was the same at PCSC. Representatives of NÚKIB used the event to meet with delegations from NATO, South Korea, Taiwan, USA, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Belgium, Croatia and Lithuania. Collaboration with the private sector is also essential in cybersecurity, which is why NÚKIB also held meetings with several private sector representatives during the conference.

This year, the Prague conference was opened to the private sector for the first time. Its role in the context of cybersecurity is becoming increasingly relevant. "Today, we can no longer ignore the importance and potential of cooperation with key players from the private sector. Only a society-wide approach and mutual synergy between the state and selected technology and cybersecurity companies is the only way forward. We need to progressively combine the strengths of the state, the private sector, and academia into one coordinated response to cyber threats nationally and internationally," said Director Lukáš Kintr on the topic of cross-sector collaboration.

Partners at this year's conference included Amazon Web Services, MSD, ICZ, Appsec, CISCO, and Mastercard. "For more than a decade, AWS has worked alongside governments and regulatory bodies across Europe to understand and meet their evolving needs in areas like cybersecurity, data privacy, and digital sovereignty. The multi-stakeholder exchanges at the Prague conference on cybersecurity underscore the vital importance of cooperation between governments, public institutions, and private organizations. Such collaboration drives innovation, and fosters resilience on the continent and globally," said Arnaud David, Director Public Policy EMEA, Digital and AI, at Amazon Web Services.