Poland’s Plans for Cybersecurity in the Homeland

By: Julia Benbenek

5 lutego, Polski Minister Obrony Mariusz Błaszczak ogłosił plan stworzenia nowej siły cybernetycznej dla Polski. Jako członek NATO, Polska angażuje się we wspólną obronę Sojuszu. W ubiegłym roku, Polska stanęła w obliczu cyber ataków ze strony grup powiązanych z Rosją. Utworzenie tego nowego planu cyberbezpieczeństwa  ma na celu zapobiec przyszłym atakom.


How will Poland’s new cyber defense unit affect its cybersecurity in the future?

On February 5th, Poland’s Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced the details of a new cyber defense force plan for Poland aimed at countering hi-tech security threats. The new force would be established on the basis of two government-run institutions, the National Centre of Cryptology and the military Inspectorate of Information Technology. Defense Minister Blaszczak named Col. Karol Molenda in charge of getting the force up and running.

Over the last ten years, Col. Molenda has been working in the Military Counterintelligence Service, occupying positions including the Head of the IT Security Branch, the Head of the Computer Forensic Branch, the Head of the Cyber Counterintelligence Branch, and since 2015, the Deputy Director of the Cyber Security Office. He specializes in cyber threat intelligence, computer forensics (GCFE), hunting targeted threats (APT), and security incident handling.

As a member of NATO, bolstering Poland’s cyber defense is important for fulfilling the alliance’s core tasks of collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security. In July of 2016, the allies agreed upon the Cyber Defense Pledge which entails the enhancement of their cyber defences. Furthermore, at the Brussels Summit in 2018, the allies set up a new Cyberspace Operations Centre as part of NATO’s strengthened Command Structure. They also agreed that NATO can draw on national cyber capabilities for its missions and operations.

Poland has recently fell victim to cyber attacks; therefore, the formation of this new cyber security unit is a critical step towards the prevention of future attacks. In October of 2018, hackers infected three energy and transport companies in Ukraine and Poland with sophisticated new malware. Investigators at Slovakia-based ESET said the group was responsible for a series of earlier attacks against the Ukrainian energy sector, which used malicious software known as BlackEnergy; however, they had now developed a new malware suit called GreyEnergy.

Ben Read, a senior manager on FireEye’s espionage analysis team, said his own work corroborated ESET’s report and that the activity, “is similar to the group we track as Sandworm.” “And activity that we attribute to Sandworm has been named by the US Department of Justice as being the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (GRU).” Kremlin’s GRU spy agency has also been previously accused by London of conducting a, “reckless campaign” of global cyber attacks; however, Moscow denies the charges.

Cyber attacks have become a substantial part of hybrid warfare, and the NATO alliance is facing an evolving complex threat environment. Through fortifying its cyber defenses, Poland is reaffirming its dedication to the alliance’s core task of collective defense and will be better capable to deter future potential threats from the Kremlin. Moreover, Poland’s cybersecurity plan protects U.S. national security interests in East and Central Europe.

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JuliaBenbenek_20Julia Benbenek is an intern at the Polish American Congress and an undergraduate student at Georgetown University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service.

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