Cyber security among other defence technologies, is considered to be a developing area providing significant opportunities to countries with a developing defence sector such as Turkey. Working in close cooperation with the Digital Transformation Office of the Presidency of Turkey, the Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB) has started to establish an ecosystem in this field through such initiatives as the Turkish Cyber Security Cluster, and the 21–25 December Cyber Security Week, which served as an opportunity to promote the activities of the ecosystem.
During the opening event of the National Cyber Security Summit, the presentation of Mustafa Özçelik, Head of the Cyber Security and Information Technologies Group of the SSB, provided valuable information on the current status of the Turkish Cyber Security Cluster, as one of the key actors in the Turkish cyber security ecosystem.
184 Companies Providing Over 1,000 Products, Services and Training
With the support of the SSB and the Digital Transformation Office, and run by SSTEK A.Ş., the foundations of the Turkish Cyber Security Cluster were laid back in 2017, while an introductory meeting that brought the cluster to the public attantion was held on 28 June, 2018. Since then, the cluster has grown to reach 184 companies that offer in excess of 200 products and 400 services and training opportunities, and its members possess 162 patents in the field of cyber security, and 43 Cyber Security Student Clubs operate within the cluster.
The cluster members are also actively working on the field of exports, making sales to 166 countries to date.
Cyber Hygiene for Subcontractors
The cluster continues activities under such themes as interaction, innovation, market access, talent access and technological leadership.
One of the projects run by the cluster named “Cyber Hygiene”, the objectives of which can be listed as: determining security criteria for information and communication, mitigating the risks of subcontractors engaged in business in the defence sector, and as a result, ensuring the security of critical information and data. An urgent precautions package was created within the project comprising 90 criteria in 13 categories. In the upcoming period, efforts will target the creation of an auditing methodology, company audits, the provision of consultancy services, and the certification of companies at different levels.
A Week of Cyber Security Discussions
The programme of the Cyber Security Week, organised by the Turkish Cyber Security Cluster under the auspices of the SSB and the Digital Transformation Office of the Presidency, included a National Cyber Security Summit, held on 21–22 December, and a Cyber Security Virtual Fair, held on 21–25 December, with more than 60 conferences, webinars, trainings and competitions held throughout the week.
The opening session of the National Cyber Security Summit was held at the Presidential Complex, where, following Mustafa Özçelik’s presentation, speeches were made by Fuat Oktay, Vice President of Turkey; Prof. Dr. İsmail Demir, President of the SSB; Dr. Ali Taha Koç, Government Chief Digital Officer; Mehmet Fatih Kacır, Deputy Minister of Industry and Technology; and Ömer Fatih Sayan, Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure.
Vice President Oktay, referring to the statement made by Özçelik in his presentation, “Give our indigenous products a chance in cyber security, as it concerns our national security”, said “We are here to do more than merely giving you a chance; we are here to express our trust in you. We are here to show that we will stand behind you all the way to the end. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the entire cyber security family, to all our representatives in the digital world, and to all our institutions, especially our Presidency of Defence Industries.” Speaking on the subject of cooperation, Oktay said: “Here I would like to express that there is a new area of cooperation that we can offer to the entire world – being cyber security and digital space – which is an area of cooperation in support of the globalisation of our indigenously developed products.”
Prof. Dr. Demir underlined the role of the cluster in his speech: “The main objective of the Turkish Cyber Security Cluster that we have established under the patronage of our Presidency (SSB) in an attempt to strengthen our country’s cyber security ecosystem, is to develop an ecosystem that will enable our country’s cyber security needs to be met with indigenous and national products. As the SSB, we are aware that a country’s defence is based not only on weapons, cannons, rifles, satellites, and defence systems, recognising also that a holistic perspective is needed that takes into account security in energy, transportation, communication, informatics, agriculture, health, and similar fields. In recognition of this fact, we have attached particular importance to cooperating with a broad range of institutions and organisations. In this digital age, we launched the Cyber Security Clustering movement based on the fact that there can no longer be single, concentrated, and area-specific solutions in our projects addressing the needs of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF), our security forces and intelligence organisations.”
Call for Cooperation to Achieve Goals
Dr. Koç emphasized that trying to secure digital infrastructures with foreign products is no different to entrusting borders to foreign soldiers, and called upon the relevant actors to play their part: “In line with our mission of improving the cyber security ecosystem, which is an integral part of our digital transformation, and developing indigenous and national cyber security products, we have recently been taking important steps with our Turkish Cyber Security Cluster project, hand-in-hand with the SSB. If we are to create a Turkey that can develop technologies in the field of cyber security and compete with the rest of the world, the producer, customer and supporting entities must all take part in the process.”
Critical Data Must Stay in Turkey
In his speech, Kacır mentioned data policies, as one of the horizontal areas in digital transformation processes, “As the Ministry of Industry and Technology, we are endeavouring with our strategic partners to ensure critical data of strategic and security concerns remains in Turkey.”
A New Understanding
Sayan dwelled upon how the understanding of cyber security had changed: “While 50 years ago we had a security and defence approach that was based entirely on the protection of our physical borders, today we must also protect our informatics infrastructures from cyber attacks if we are to talk about security. Cyber security, by its very nature, is a concept that should be handled from technical, social, and legal standpoints. Coordinated and collaborative works should be carried out at multiple levels: from cyber capacity building to digital diplomacy; and from cyber threat intelligence to the development of a cyber security ecosystem.”
Continuing online after the opening session, the summit hosted six panels emphasising the importance of domestic cyber security in critical sectors.
Virtual Fair Hosts Visitors over 5 Days
Cyber Security Fair, providing a 3D viewing experience to attendants and hosting stands from 80 member companies of the Turkish Cyber Security Cluster, were registered by around 10,000 participants. Some 12,300 stand visits were made, and companies came together with interested parties for 2,200 meetings.
Alongside the participating companies, the Ministry of Industry and Technology, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, the SSB, the Digital Transformation Office, the Turkish Cyber Security Cluster, TÜBİTAK BİLGEM (Informatics and Information Security Research Centre), and the Cyber Clubs Association also opened virtual stands.
Cyber Security Week Events
During Cyber Security Week, the Turkish Cyber Security Cluster and its member companies organised 65 different events on different platforms, including summits, conferences, webinars, trainings and competitions, which were attended by tens of thousands of people, including public and private sector representatives, researchers, and students with an interest in the cyber security field.
Recordings of the events launched by the member firms throughout the week can be accessed via the YouTube channel of the Turkish Cyber Security Cluster.
STM Participates in Cyber Security Week with 6 Events STM, one of the main sponsors of the Cyber Security Week, at a post-event briefing, provided information about its activities during the week; taking part in six different events. Bülent Soydal, Vice President of Technology at STM, joined a panel discussing "Indigenous Cyber Security in the Defence Sector" organised as part of the National Cyber Security Summit. STM officials were also in attendance in the webinars held throughout the week, giving speeches and sharing STM's activities and their broad experience. Providing an assessment of Cyber Security Week, Soydal said that STM has been actively supporting the organiser of the event, Cyber Security Cluster, since its establishment. He stressed that STM is carrying out studies aimed at raising awareness of the importance of cyber security, both among young people and the private sector, and at cultivating the human resources needed in Turkey in the field: “The path to a much safer future in the cyber universe involves increasing the cyber security awareness of society as a whole, especially in the private sector; analysing the threats and opportunities in this field well; developing cooperation in this field; and providing more opportunities to our young people, and these are among the end goals of the Cyber Security Cluster. The creation of a Turkey that can both hold its own and compete in the global market with the technologies it develops in the field of cyber security will be achieved with the support of those who have embarked on this journey with our Presidency of Defence Industries and the Digital Transformation Office of the Presidency, including our universities, our ecosystems, and the young people who have joined us, working in cooperation and collaboration.”