Vilnius Security Forum: Societies in Threat

Hoaxes, fake news, and misleading information are expanding the cyber interactions to breaching privacy and integrity and questioning the Western Readiness to Respond to Hybrid Threat as proclaimed at the Vilnius Security Forum 2021 held on 26th March 2021. 

In 1995 the Net action thriller about a system technology analyst who lost her identity due to a sun-destroyed disk recording her life was welcomed as unforgettable interaction for teasing personal security in the future cyber exposure. The creative projecting on how advanced technologies can overrun our identities is a reality heavily affecting societies living in isolation during the COVID-19 crisis. And the hybrid threats during the world pandemic  face the controversial political approaches to lockdowns, curfews, testing, life-saving vaccination and expressions of the forms of democracy in contemporary societies. In the age of data, western governments let data overwhelm democracy.

Can hybrid threats replace our values for identity and democracy? The representatives raised an avalanche of questions at the international conference, followed by over 1300 people. Top policy-makers, security experts, civil society actors, and journalists dealt with citizens and nations’ security against “wars” led on social networks, fake media, and statements twitting fast by making use of new technologies.

A member organisation of the CRISPRO knowledge network, the Finnish security organisation Hellenberg International, liaised with the conference. The CRISPRO partner representative Timo Hellenberg moderated a discussion calling for public-private cooperation in mitigating hybrid threats. 

“I recall a concept called controllable information some 20 years ago launched in Lithuania’s neighbouring country; nowadays, when we look at the wording and particularly the politics related to the COVID-19 crisis, it is quite the same,” said Timo Hellenberg. 

We have learned from disinformation during COVID-19 to try to integrate the private sector because the companies have a lot of experience from areas where they have already confronted hybrid threats, such as cyber-attacks, mentioned the speakers. Likewise, they concluded that we could learn from IT developers /firms and integrate the private sector experience into the western government systems. 

 By letting the way to a completely new policy track of artificial intelligence and disruptive technologies, the governments can take advantage of narrowing down the problem of hybrid threats and work together with private firms. One way through is to encourage incentives for the private sector. While the Western governments use the old fashion division of external and internal threats, the threats are not divided into external and internal. The security experts concluded that we could not change the types of threats; hence, we need to change our structures and approaches.

The discussion led to an incentive-driven PPP based on sharing the threat picture where the common interests lay. In the context of security, the supply chain and critical technology involvement are good examples of better cooperation with the “silicon valley” type companies rather than big industrial companies (as in the Cold War concept).

The panellists mentioned that the governments encountered many technical barriers and other hurdles and solving many issues informally for the lack of regular procedures.

This year the forum was held in an empty conference hall for over 300 persons; however, online actors topped 1300.