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Cybersecurity, the Intelligence alarm: “Profound alterations”

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Cybersecurity, the Intelligence alarm: “Profound alterations”

Rapid developments in technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud, blockchain, big data & analytics, quantum technologies, 5G and 6G networks, satellite technologies, are profoundly altering the threat landscapewhich continues to become increasingly extensive and complex, in particular with regards to digital security, with repercussions also in various areas of national security”. This is the alarm put in black and white in the annual Intelligence Report presented to Parliament. (DOWNLOAD THE REPORT HERE)

Dizzying growth in threats

“As also emerged in the final declaration released on the occasion of the summit on the NATO 2030 agenda (Brussels, 14 June 2021), we will be “called more and more every day to deal with cyber and hybrid threats, including disinformation campaigns, and harmful use of increasingly sophisticated emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, for malicious purposes”, we read in the chapter “The world in transformation” which focuses on the new technological frontiers.

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According to Intelligence, “the possibilities conferred by new technologies – in particular with regard to their scope, speed and their potential impact in the social, cultural, political, military and economic spheres – as well as their rapid evolution, are unprecedented . These circumstances are due, among other reasons, to the “open” nature of modern innovation, produced mainly by the world of private enterprise, unlike what happened in the past when the most advanced innovation process flowed from the military/military sector. governmental to civil and industrial. This means that, today, it is the digital economy as a whole that generates the technological potential and industrial bases which, beyond the primary function of developing consumption, can take on a military or intelligence value”.

The focus is on the so-called dual-use mode, i.e. the use of technologies for both civil and military purposes, many of which are more easily accessible than in the past and whose possibilities of use are difficult to predict as a whole.

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Technological-industrial supremacy

Furthermore, the Intelligence adds, “the rapid rate of innovation is outpacing the ability of states to keep abreast of the latest technological developments and their potential impact on society. Although some countries have so far tried to develop mechanisms to mitigate or manage these dynamics, the global reach and effects of many of the frontier technologies would require new multilateral governance solutions on which it is difficult to agree, in light of important strategic and ideological differences among the most influential state actors in this domain. Rather, a tight competition (economic and strategic) is taking shape for technological-industrial supremacy and for the consequent control of the dynamics of the new phase of digitalisation, the effects of which (both positive and negative) will also have a considerable impact on our country”.

Digitalization between opportunities and risks

According to Intelligence, technological development and national security are to be considered two sides of the same coin: “Digitalization will bring with it economic growth and new opportunities, while at the same time making us more vulnerable and exposed to a greater number of risks. The centrality of digital transformation to sustainable and inclusive economic growth has become particularly evident in recent years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has accelerated, among others, the adoption of large-scale collaboration and cloud technologies as a consequence of the increase in remote working”.

Keep humans in control of technological systems

While on the one hand digitalisation is accompanied by initiatives aimed at making the nation more robust and resilient – “broad-spectrum technological interventions have been planned accompanied by structural reforms, including support for migration to the cloud through the creation of a national infrastructure , the implementation of digital services for citizens, as well as the strengthening of the country’s national cyber security perimeter – on the other hand “the real challenge in this process is to keep man firmly in control of technological systems, to master them without be influenced by them or, worse, overwhelmed, understanding their potential and weighing the vulnerabilities and critical issues that derive from their widespread adoption”.

The impacts on the secret services

Frontier technologies cannot fail to influence the activities of intelligence bodies. “The new digital methods will allow, among other things, to effectively analyze data and considerably expand the information pool available to operators: alongside, but certainly not replacing, traditional information collection techniques”

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In order to face the growing threats and seize the opportunities promised by new technologies, “Intelligence is committed to promoting an incessant process of innovation within itself and at the same time to carrying out, in terms of information competition and analysis, a systematic action to prevent and combat the threat, anticipating the risks deriving from the development and use of the most advanced forms of digital transformation”.


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