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12° Nicosia,
28 February, 2024
 
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Protecting citizens' information in Cyprus under scrutiny

Ministry of Finance leak exposes Cyprus' digital weaknesses

Apostolis Tomaras

Apostolis Tomaras

The water leak at the Ministry of Finance in Cyprus has exposed broader issues in the country's digital services, raising concerns about both physical infrastructure protection and the safeguarding of citizens' data.

Recent hacker attacks on key state services, including the Land Registry, Ministry of Defence, and University of Cyprus, intensify the problem. Information from "K" suggests that the situation has alarmed the government and the Deputy Ministry of Research Innovation and Digital Policy, indicating a deeper and more complex problem touching on state security and personal data.

The president of the Republic has been briefed on these digital security issues, describing the situation as very serious.

Concerning the identified gaps, public information systems equipment lacks adequate security measures in various locations across Cyprus. According to "K," the issue goes beyond initial estimates and involves inadequate guarding of the Republic's information systems, not limited to the Ministry of Finance's servers in the building's basement.

Authoritative sources reveal weaknesses in safeguarding and maintaining the government's information systems network infrastructure, prompting the Deputy Ministry to prepare a plan ensuring physical security and operational continuity, following the protocols of the Digital Security Authority (APSA) of the Republic of Cyprus.

Responsibilities for the situation are attributed to factors related to the state's digital transformation, as highlighted by the previous Deputy Minister of Research and Innovation, Kyriakos Kokkinos.

The economic impact of cyberattacks is illustrated by the attack on the Land Registry last April, where delayed operations resulted in revenues of €150 million. The Land Registry alone handled operations totaling €7.47 billion in 2022. In the hypothetical scenario of an attack on the Tax Department, the financial consequences would be incalculable.

Given these circumstances, the creation of a Data Center in Cyprus is proposed as a crucial step, with the government already moving in this direction to ensure the physical safety of equipment and operational continuity.

Emphasizing the use of Cloud technology for sensitive services, the Deputy Ministry believes that implementing "cloud computing" is the best solution for government agencies dealing with confidential information, despite the Republic of Cyprus having significantly delayed its use compared to other countries.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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