KTH Royal Institute of Technology: Vulnerability and security in focus

It takes Viktor Engström, a student at the KTH Ethical Hacking Center, no more than five minutes to show how he can hack his way into an unknown mobile phone. The king, queen, and crown princess seem to express both surprise and shock at how easy this apparently is.

Vulnerability and security were the key words when KTH invited around 80 people from industry, the enterprise sector, the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Security Service (SÄPO), plus members of the royal family to attend a symposium on cyber defence and information security in the Reactor Hall on the KTH Campus.

The KTH symposium also included a panel discussion and lecture on the state of cyber security in Sweden today, plus a demonstration of what vulnerability can look like in practice.

“There is a never ending stream of vulnerabilities,” says Pontus Johnson, Professor of Network and Systems Engineering at KTH and Director of the Center for Cyber Defense and Information Security, CDIS.

Dependency and know-how requirements
He opened the seminar with a description of how our ever increasing dependency on computers, together with ever more potent intruders and vulnerable systems have created the situation we have today where cyber attacks, not least from the intelligence services of other countries, are becoming increasingly common.

Picture from KTH reactor hall, named R1.
The symposium on cyber defence and information security was held in the Reactor Hall at KTH.
There is a big need for know-how in this area, with a shortage of around 200,000 cyber security experts in Europe today, to be able to counter attacks and find solutions for the future.

“Here the university world has a large and important role to play,” Johnson said. The need for education, research and innovation as an antidote was a recurring theme when solutions, along with how to counter and combat cyber security threats, were discussed during the symposium.

Cyber Campus initiative
One way forward to boost know-how and cyber defence in Sweden that was presented was a proposal for a Cyber Campus – a collaboration between KTH, the Research Institute of Sweden (RISE), the Swedish Armed Forces, and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), to strengthen and consolidate education, research, and know-how into a joint initiative. If this is to be realised, other public authorities, companies, and universities, should also be able to participate in work to strengthen cyber security on a broad front.

Micael Byden, Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, argued that such an arena would be a vital weapon in this context, and Annika Stensson Trigell, Vice President of Research at KTH and the symposium moderator, referenced the research infrastructure and cooperation within the SciLifeLab as a role model.

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