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Is the Canton of Zurich equipped against cyber attacks?

Switzerland urgently needs to have a debate about which attack scenarios we can expect and what collateral damage we are willing to accept, writes Markus Christen from the University of Zurich in the column: Cyber defence – defined processes instead of “hack backs” (external link), which appeared in InsideIT. The NZZ calls the attack on Bülach an alarm signal and reports on the Centre for Cyber Security that the Canton of Zurich is setting up. The protective shield against cyberattacks planned by the cantonal office for information technology can also be used by cities and municipalities (external link to the article).

The answer to the question of how we can better protect ourselves against threats from the internet is as complex as cyber security itself, because the right balance must always be found between technical possibilities and political, social and economic interests. In particular, the increasing digitisation of critical infrastructure is 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 help in such an emergency situation? This is precisely where the new Cyber Resilience Network of 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 also aims 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.

CYRENZH is funded as part of the DIZH innovation programme and is led by researchers from the UZH and ZHAW.