Review of the GÉANT Security Days

Davina Luyten
Davina Luyten Communications officer @ Belnet
Fri, 04/19/2024 - 16:41

From 9 to 11 April, the first edition of the Security Days took place in Prague. The conference was an initiative from the pan-European research network GÉANT and brought together 150 colleagues interested in security from the international research and education community.

National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) play a crucial role in facilitating knowledge development, owing to the specific infrastructure and services they provide to the R&E community. 

Due in part to the increased complexity of these networks, increasingly sophisticated cyber threats and new international regulations, a pervasive security culture is paramount. 

The varied programme of the conference therefore aimed to exchange best practices, knowledge and experiences on various aspects of information security.


Human Factor

The fact that technology alone cannot protect us was discussed at length during the various presentations and sessions on the 'human factor'. 

In recent decades, countless improvements have been made technologically to the operating systems we all know and use. At the same time, we have long lost sight of the human aspect of security: for example, Verizon research shows that 74% of all cyber incidents are linked to human error. 

Fortunately, there is a growing awareness that it is crucial to make employees aware of security risks and train them to recognise as well as report suspicious issues. Scientific research, for instance in the domain of behavioural change, offers numerous interesting insights for getting started with this. 

To create a successful awareness programme, we must first and foremost have a good understanding of how the human brain learns, and how to motivate people to modify their behaviour. 

Fuelling curiosity and focusing on positive, simple messages are some key elements here. Security should not be an obstacle in the daily activities of our employees, but rather a tool for them. 

Learning from one another

Sharing knowledge and experiences is in the DNA of the NREN community. Several organisations gave participants a glimpse into their security service offerings and shared insights into their internal awareness programmes and incident response procedures.

Professor Roland van Rijswijk (Universiteit Twente)

The keynotes were also particularly inspiring. For example, Prof. Roland van Rijswijk-Deij (University of Twente) gave a presentation on the challenges that powerful quantum computers – a reality within a few decades according to most scientists – will bring. He made us look beyond the hype, but also indicated that the transition to post-quantum cryptography still has a long way to go. 

His keynote was therefore a call to the NREN community to take on a pioneering role in this and establish a close collaboration with the research community.

Alf Moens, Security Lead from GÉANT closed the conference: “Collaboration at all levels and across national borders, the need to share experience and expertise, and the importance of the human factor in such a technical environment are the most discussed and key takeaways of Security Days 2024. I am impressed with the active participation and great engagement of all delegates and hope that Security Days will help to make the community better prepared and more resilient against cyber risks.”

Davina Luyten
Davina Luyten Communications officer @ Belnet

Davina Luyten is communications officer at Belnet. She has a background in translation, journalism and multilingual corporate communication. At Belnet, she focuses on external communication, public relations, crisis communication and security awareness. She has participated in the GÉANT project since 2020, where her involvement includes the annual cyber security awareness campaign. 

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