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ENISA Releases Framework for Evaluating National Cyber Security Strategies

The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) has published a framework designed to help government officials and policy practitioners evaluate National Cyber Security Strategies (NCSS).

The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) has published a framework designed to help government officials and policy practitioners evaluate National Cyber Security Strategies (NCSS).

A total of 18 European Union member countries have published or are in the process of publishing a NCSS that details the cyberspace-related risks which could have a negative social and economic impact. The list includes Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

ENISA has developed an evaluation framework that is based on the analysis of these 18 EU strategies and 8 non-EU strategies.

ENISA LogoThe framework focuses on five key objectives: the development of cyber defense policies and capabilities, cyber resilience, supporting industry on cyber security, securing critical information infrastructure, and reducing cybercrime. However, ENISA has pointed out that the guidance is not a prescriptive checklist, but a flexible and pragmatic tool based on principles. This enables states to focus on certain key performance indicators depending on their priorities.

“From reviewing and analysing the evaluation components of the NCSS, it was noted that many countries do not agree on the outcomes or impacts of their NCSS and on the ways to achieve them. Within Europe, the approach taken to evaluation differs largely among Member States. While almost all NCSS included in this study mention some elements of the review process, this was normally at a very high level and frequently orientated around spending reviews,” ENISA said.

The document published by the agency highlights the benefits and challenges of evaluating a national strategy, and also points out the pitfalls that must be avoided when implementing an evaluation framework, including in areas such as communications and engagement, budgetary support, and transparency and public accountability.

“A National Cyber Security Strategy is an important step that allows Member States to address cyber security risks and challenges. This is a continuous process that requires proper evaluation, in order to adjust to the emerging needs of society, technology and the economy. With this work ENISA provides a systematic and practical evaluation framework that allows EU Member States to improve their capabilities when designing NCSS,” commented ENISA Executive Director Udo Helmbrecht.

The evaluation framework is not the only ENISA report on the design and implementation of National Cyber Security Strategies. In 2012, the organization published a “Good practice guide on NCSS.”

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ENISA has also shown significant interest in cryptography. In November, the agency released two reports on the use and implementation of cryptographic protocols for securing personal data.

The NCSS Framework, released on November 27 in Brussels, is available for download in PDF format.


Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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