Titre unique

Policy Paper on Cybersecurity in the Middle East and North Africa

The expanding threat landscape of cyber-attacks in the MENA region amounts not only to high economic losses, but endangers critical infrastructure and bears considerable political costs. Effective cybersecurity requires new ways of thinking, ranging from approaching cyber security in a comprehensive way, to grasping its geopolitical potential and building a culture of cyber hygiene for human resources and the general public. This paper combines the key insights from the recent international KAS workshop on MENA cybersecurity with an analysis of MENA's most pressing issues and the essential current developments in cyber conflict.

This paper builds on important insights that emerged at the recent international Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) workshop on MENA cybersecurity (a cooperation between the KAS Regional Program Political Dialogue South Mediterranean and the KAS Country Office Lebanon), which took place on the 4th to the 5th of April in Beirut. Participants in the workshop included high ranking representatives of politics, military diplomacy and the private sector.

It has only been quite recent that the MENA region started to concern itself with comprehensive debates on the issue. Most of the region's national cyber security strategies (if existing) are younger than a decade old, and governmental authorities in charge of national cyber security are being established gradually in recent years.

The topic is still nascent in the region, and therefore often discussed one-sidedly. There is a notable tendency to approach cyber security as a mere technology issue - accordingly the states approaches to the pressing issue consist of buying technology instead of comprehensive problem solving.

The KAS included the often overlooked political context of cybersecurity in the Middle East, aiming to raise awareness about the relevance and all-encompassing nature of the topic. The workshop included topics ranging from cyber warfare, cybersecurity with regard to elections and disinformation campaigns, and domestic/international legal efforts. A new focus was added to traditional debates by emphasizing the geopolitical implications of this new domain of interaction - a domain observing rapidly increasing popularity for new and old actors in the region.



Valentina von Finckenstein