Security challenges during the crisis


Institutional Communication Service

25 May 2020

As part of the eGovernment course of the Master in Public Management and Policy (PMP), Anna Picco Schwendener - co-teacher of the course with Prof. Lorenzo Cantoni and post-doc researcher at the Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society - interviewed a special guest on the subject of cyber-security: Mauro Vignati, Head of Cyber, Federal Intelligence Service. The video-interview tackles both the theme of the risks linked to teleworking and security implications resulting from a generally more extensive use of the network.

What challenges do we face today, when a large part of our lives takes place online? The question was answered by Mauro Vignati, who is in charge for the Confederation of identifying state cyber-attacks, focusing on operations that are carried out in the IT world by third states against Swiss interests. At the same time, his team monitors technological developments in Switzerland and around the world in order to anticipate possible risks and help the state and companies to be prepared for change.

It is in fact the sudden switch to an almost exclusive online interaction in the world of work and retail and in the private sphere that has shown the vulnerabilities of systems, which were introduced to implement rapid solutions without proper time to test their complexity and assess their security. In addition to the so-called "background noise" - characterised by phishing operations, identity theft, credit card theft - during this time criminals have been using Covid-19 to send fraudulent emails on behalf of renowned organisations. In addition to these attempts, there are also operations involving online misinformation, in which interest groups use the pandemic to target possible perpetrators and spread false news. Security implications, with increased attempts to access computers, have also been observed due to the increase of teleworking, which has seen a large use of RDP (RemoteDesktopProtocol), VPN, software such as Zoom or Skype.

According to Vignati, however, there is also plenty of opportunities to be seized from this situation especially in the reorganisation of the workflow: a space for reflection is being created that leads to perceive teleworking as a way forward that can be improved.


Security challenges during the crisis