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Ángel Gómez de Ágreda: "There is no need to be afraid of the Internet, but there is a need for prudence and common sense".
The cybersecurity expert assures that "the challenge is to build a cyberspace that is at the service of mankind".
Ángel Gómez de Ágreda is a Colonel in the Spanish Air Force and former head of the Cooperation section of the Joint Cyber Defense Command. He is also an analyst for the Ministry of Defense and this week he visited Tecnun to give a conference on cybersecurity.
What are the challenges and opportunities in cybersecurity today?
Challenges go hand in hand with opportunities. It is like the Chinese expression for 'crisis', which means danger on the one hand and opportunity on the other. Any situation of change is an opportunity, and we have to know how to take advantage of the opportunities that cyberspace offers us, because they are enormous. The problem is that cyberspace is not conceived as a secure environment, so we have to know how to adapt it to the way we act. The challenge is to build a cyberspace that is at the service of man.
In recent years the number of cyber-attacks has increased, do you think there will be more and more?
Just as Moore's Law states that the number of transistors in a microprocessor doubles approximately every two years, the same thing happens with cyberattacks. The number of attacks doubles every two years. For several reasons: on the one hand, because there are more and more people connected and also more money moving in cyberspace, and on the other hand because we have better and better techniques to detect these attacks. That is why it is very important to make cyberspace a safe place in which we can move around.
Will the wars of this century be fought on the Internet, rather than on a battlefield?
Yes, in fact, they are already happening. These are the so-called 'hybrid wars', which combine Internet, economic, social and psychological warfare. Right now we are in a permanent conflict in cyberspace that is not only between states, but also between companies and private citizens or organizations. It is not science fiction or something from the future, Internet wars are already happening.
What security advice would you give to the general Internet user?
The first thing is not to be afraid, but to be cautious and have common sense. You have to be aware that anything that is on a device connected to the Internet can be seen by someone. Either by a person or by an algorithm that is monitoring the activity on that network. Any activity on our cell phone, for example, is recorded by the phone company. Therefore, we have to be clear that we live in a glass bubble and we have to behave with that in mind.
Does the same advice apply to companies?
Yes, but for companies, I would add the quasi-obligation they now have to follow a process of digitalization and take advantage of the opportunities offered by cyberspace. They also have to keep in mind that the threats that can come to a company are multiplied by the number of employees they have.
Where does Spain stand in the field of cybersecurity?
We are quite well positioned. I would say in the leading group because we have excellent engineers and a lot of talent. We lack perhaps a mechanism to take advantage of that dispersed talent. But ideally there should be a fusion of that talent because the fact that we are in a very good position today does not mean that we will be in a very good position tomorrow. That is why it is essential to make use of all the talent we have, so that we are leaders in taking advantage of opportunities and mitigating threats. In this way we will be in the lead and not one step behind. In this world, whoever is one step ahead of you is light years ahead.