Cybersecurity - Unsplash

An ever-increasing dependency on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) makes it crucial for all to take all the necessary steps to ensure a secure cyber ecosystem.

Systems are continuously exposed to cyber threats, which need countering through continuous investment in the best tools and technologies that make our systems resilient to such attacks.

And, it can be easily argued that the European Union (EU) has a strategic interest in investing in its own citizens and businesses, to create its own research, skills and technological capabilities that help secure all its systems.

While the EU has many experts and experienced people in cybersecurity, it might be that its efforts are not unified, making it difficult to work towards a common goal.

It has been argued that if all Member States within the EU group their efforts and share their knowledge and expertise about cybersecurity, then this block of countries may become more effective in protecting its systems and assets. Some of the most important stakeholders within the EU are the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), whose size allows them to be more agile in finding solutions. However, they are also at a disadvantage because of the continuous investment and knowledge that is required to have the best cybersecurity solutions.

It is for such reasons that the European Union is supporting the industry and enterprises through funding, which is made available through the Digital Europe Programme.

A total budget of €7.9 billion is made available to Member States for the period 2021 – 2027, together with other funding from other programmes. The Digital Europe Programme not only provides funding for investments in digital technologies and systems, but also helps raising awareness about the importance of having such systems in place to avoid potential threats.

The programme supports key areas like supercomputing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and advanced digital skills. It also supports SMEs in making their digital transformation with a reinforced network of European Digital Innovation Hubs.

To provide support across the Member States, a European Cybersecurity Competence Centre (ECCC) was set up, to coordinate with a network of National Coordination Centres. These centres are intended to facilitate access to knowledge, funding, and resources for the national ecosystem, specifically SMEs, thereby helping them become more resilient.

In the local context, the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) has been chosen as the National Cybersecurity Coordination Centre (MITA-NCC). Apart from comprehensive cybersecurity awareness and educational campaigns, the MITA-NCC highly promotes cybersecurity opportunities, some of which include national and EU funding calls.

While encouraging Maltese entities to seek funding for investments in cybersecurity measures, it also provides consultation on proposals for applications and assists in finding partners for consortia, wherever applicable.

On a European level, the MITA-NCC strengthens cross-border and cross-sectional relationships, through the network of National Coordination Centres.

Specifically, through the Digital Europe Programme, the MITA-NCC secured a budget of €2 million for SMEs to invest in cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions, through the CYBER+ALT ‘Agħżel li Tiproteġi’ Grant Scheme.

The MITA-NCC aims at enhancing local and EU cybersecurity, while laying the groundwork for sustained growth in cybersecurity initiatives.

The Digital Europe Programme also enables expertise to be shared across the states, so that new solutions to cybersecurity challenges can be found and once again shared amongst the Member States, making it easier to be secure and in less time.

This programme also contributes to the upskilling of more people working in cybersecurity, while encouraging a coordinated effort from a large amount of cybersecurity experts across the European Union to share their knowledge and expertise.

For more information about the Digital Europe Programme, more information can be found here.

To learn more about the National Cybersecurity Coordination Centre, you can follow the link here.

This article is co-founded by the European Union

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