Monday, February 1, 2016

Enrique Fojón: "There's no national security without cybersecurity"

Enrique Fojón Chamorro. Expert on cyberwar and founder of THIBER, the Spanish cybersecurity Think Tank.


Enrique Fojón Chamorro is one of the greatest Spanish cyberwar experts... but he doesn't want to talk about his job. He has being system engineer in a Spanish State company more than 10 years, dedicated to offer support with consulting, managing and engineering to  the Administration and the Defense Ministry.

Enrique isn't a secret agent but, as good connoisseur of the power of the information, he gives us the less possible information about his person: "I was born in Cadiz 37 years ago. I'm a computer engineer and I live in The Hague (Netherlands). My first contact with the computing was when I was 7 years, when my parents decided to register me in a BASIC program as an extracurricular activity (I would have preferred soccer or judo)". That was all.

-Some people says the Third World War is already happening and  it's a cyberwar.

- No doubt we are in a crucial moment, marked by the consolidation of new regional powers, the transfer of the main global strategical gravity center to the Asian-Pacific zone and the increasing  irrelevance of Europe. In addition of this geopolitical changes, the proliferation of state and non-state actors with warlike capabilities, the unstoppable technological dependence of our societies or the new risks for the global security place a lot of nations under a permanent risk situation. If we add the belligerence of the cyberspace - consolidated now as the fifth dimension of the operative environment - to this explosive mix, the result could trigger a "perfect storm" which would drive us to a Third World War, but this wouldn't be  cybernetic only.

-At the moment, we've only seen a few drones flying and a lot of electronic espionage. Is it war?

- The drones and the espionage are only the tip of the iceberg. The battle for the technologic superiority is a reality. The main world powers - specially the Unite States and Russia - have used on Iraq, Afghanistan or Ukraine some technologies developed during the last decade, among them we found the biometric war, the robotic war, the artificial intelligence or the miniaturization.

- Are the governments hiding things to us?

-Obama, Putin, Xi, Merkel or Rohani have understood a long time ago that without cybersecurity there's no national security.
Since 2013 a lot of governments have adopted laws which endorse massive cyberspionage and, they are also assigning a lot of resources -human and technological- to develop cybercapabilities for the defense of their own specific cyberspaces. Surely, some of these cybercapabilities are still unknown and they would have a great disruptive power.

- For example: Would the increasingly attacks to critical infrastructures be essays made by the States? 

- Actually, we don't know the number of attacks against critical infrastructures or the level of real menace. We don't doubt that cybercriminals, mercenaries paid by states and even intelligence services have the critical infrastructures not only of their enemies, but also of their allies and partners, among their objectives.

- If the war is cybernetic, should the commanders be hackers?

- The modern armed forces are more and more dependent on the electromagnetic resources and the cyberspace technologies. Both are in a constant convergence process, creating with this the emerging of a "cybernetic and electromagnetic battlefield" which requires a continuous adaptation. This adaptation requires the military commanders to have knowledge of new technologies, but above all they must have a specialized advice.

- Do you remember Careto, the virus/ATP? Some people said it was made in Spain. Is the Spanish weapons industry manufacturing cybernetic weapons?

- I don't know but, in my opinion, building the national cybersecurity industry with production cycles of 10 or 15 years is meaningless, the production of offensive cybercapabilities can't be ruled from the traditional industry.

- It's a shame that a network created for the research is being used as instrument of violence and power. 

- Internet is an essential tool for the social, economic, politic and cultural development of the nations Having said that, many governments have understood the power they can use through the use and control of Internet and they are exercising it.

- You're founder and sub director of THIBER, the Spanish "think tank" about cybersecurity. When and why was it born?

- At the end of 2012, with 2 great friends,
Adolfo Hernandez (no doubt, one of the best cybersecurity professionals I ever met) and Guillem Colom (well known international expert on Security and Defense) I devised THIBER. We detected that in our country the cybersecurity didn't exist in the political agenda and there was a great general ignorance, not only by the political class and the main leaders of the county but also by the vast majority of the citizenship. We had clear that the objective  of THIBER  in short-term was the creation of an opinion state about the importance of the security and defense of the cyberspace. Soon great professionals like Chema García, Ángel Vallejo, David Barrancos, Tomás Isaías or José Ramón Coz (are so may that I forgot a lot of them) joined us and we started our work. In the present, THIBER is an initiative consolidated in constant transformation process.

- We finish asking you a quote you want share with our readers.

- Although we live in a digital world, I made mine the quote of Winston Churchill (or at least is attributed to him): "A good conversation should exhaust the subject, not the partners".

Text: Mercè Molist


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