How can we better protect ourselves from cyber threats? The answer to this question is as complex as cyber security itself, because the right balance must always be found between technical possibilities and political, social and economic interests. The increasing digitalisation of critical infrastructures in particular poses a challenge. While it has clear benefits, it also brings with it greater vulnerability to cyber threats. Of particular concern is the possibility of large-scale disasters that could lead to a breakdown in electricity, drinking water, food or medicine production. In such a situation, every helping hand is needed to restore operations. But how do you organise helpers in such an emergency situation? This is precisely where the new Cyber Resilience Network for the Canton of Zurich (CYRENZH) comes in. The aim is to protect the self-determination of Zurich as a business location and its population through research and teaching as well as the establishment of a militia consisting of volunteers. Similar to the fire brigade, the funded project aims to build up a task force of civilian first responders for the digital space. CYRENZH is also intended to strengthen cooperation between the various actors in the canton of Zurich and create new training and further education opportunities in the field of cyber security.
In the first half of the project (2022-2025), the legal basis and the scope of the activity will be defined, while in the second half (2025-2027) the concrete implementation will take place. It is necessary to examine how exactly existing organisations that have already taken on cybersecurity tasks can be supported in fulfilling their mandate. Clearly delineated areas of responsibility and required competences must be defined. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) already helps the population and organisations with selective support. The military supports them – but only in exceptional emergencies. A central question is therefore how the legal framework for the deployment of digital first responders should be designed, how cooperation with municipalities, the canton and the federal government must be organised and how existing structures in the area of cyber security can be taken up and expanded. CYRENZH will thus make an important contribution to the “Cantonal Cyber Security Strategy“, which the Zurich cantonal government adopted in May 2022.
A lively exchange of knowledge between representatives from science, business and cantonal authorities – but also civil society – is essential in the development and implementation of this two-stage project. The project, led by researchers from UZH and ZHAW, is supported by cantonal, national and international practice partners from authorities (NCSC, Canton of Zurich, police), companies (insurance companies, cybersecurity service providers) and foundations (SWITCH).
Running time: 2022 – 2027