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11 9 2018

Highlights of the 2018 Cyber Security Summer School

NATO's Communications and Information Agency and its partners successfully completed their fourth summer school. The program is a six-day learning opportunity in The Hague designed to immerse students and young professionals in the challenges of international cybersecurity.

The 60 attendees of International Cyber Security Summer School 2018 gained a deeper understanding of issues and policies around cybersecurity through site visits, lectures and assignments. The group represented 21 different countries and brought backgrounds in technology, policy and law. This fourth iteration of the program wrapped up on Aug. 24.

Designed to help people at the start of their careers in cybersecurity, this summer school gives them an introduction to industry challenges in an international environment. Not only does the school give young professionals an international perspective, it also seeks to give them a multi-disciplinary one by mixing technology-driven discussions with ones that tackle legal and policy questions.


Cybersecurity experts from the NCI Agency explained to students visiting their facility in The Hague how they use technology from a variety of sources to secure NATO's information technology infrastructure.

"This summer school is a very good opportunity to meet different companies, but also students and young professionals from all over Europe," said Sander Bannink, a then-master's student in information technology. "I think this is a great opportunity to really build the bridge between like more the law, policy people, and the more technical part of cybersecurity."

Most of the summer school attendees were students, and eight of them were pursuing doctoral degrees. Eleven of the attendees were young professionals.

"What I would like to do is build a more cyber resilient world. Because of all the different devices we have here, everything can be hacked," Bannink said. "And we really need to work together — with both the governments, the public sector, private sector, academia — everyone needs to be together in this to make this a better world, to make the world more cyber resilient."

Highlights of the 2018 Cyber Security Summer School

The summer school's attendees can exchange their thoughts and knowledge, said Annámaria Beláz, a cybersecurity Ph.D. candidate at Óbuda University.

"I do really like the lectures — and also the challenges — together with the others," Beláz said, referring to the multi-disciplinary challenges set by the organizers and other partners such as Nederlandse Spoorwegen, Thales and Dutch cyber training company Certified Secure.

The NCI Agency, Leiden University, Europol, EY, The Hague Security Delta and the Dutch Innovation Factory put together the program, with speakers from several cybersecurity companies and organizations.

"Today you can ruin a country by attacking countries in a digital way," said Jan Peter Balkenende, former prime minister of the Netherlands. "We are aware of the fact that the risks are changing."

Balkenende, a professor at Erasmus University is the most notable tutor of the summer school, which includes cybersecurity experts from the NCI Agency, Europol, Leiden University and leading cyber security companies. He believes in the young generation.

"They are willing to think about the future," he said. "They are innovative. They are involved in startups."

It's always good to listen to young people, Balkenende said.

"They know that the world is changing," he said. "The question is: 'How can we contribute to that better world?'"

The International Cyber Security Summer School encourages young people to do their part in assuring a safer, more secure, digital world.

Check out the video to see the highlights from this year's summer school.