International cybersecurity challenges


Cyber threats have no borders and are constantly changing and evolving in complexity and maturity. No single country can tackle alone the cyber threats which are constantly changing and evolving in complexity and maturity. International and European cooperation in the field of cybersecurity is essential in order to build a stronger cybersecurity for all as well as to promote and protect an open, free, stable and secure cyberspace. This session provided a comprehensive overview of the global actors and dimension of the cyberspace, and showed the complexity of the ever-increasing cyber risks in a hyper connected world in which international cooperation is the best way forward.

After the session the participants had the opportunity to try Room #42-VR edition and were immersed in an office with several vulnerabilities, which could be used to conduct a cyberattack or to access to sensitive data/information.

Moderator: Despina Spanou, Director for Digital Society, Trust and Cybersecurity, DG CONNECT, European Commission

Despina Spanou is leading since 2017 the European Commission team responsible for the EU's policies and research activities in cybersecurity, digital privacy, eHealth, smart mobility, smart cities and egovernment. She is a member of the management board of the EU Agency for Cybersecurity, ENISA and the Steering board of CERT EU.

Previously she was Director for Consumer Affairs at the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers. Mrs. Spanou has also served as Principal Adviser in the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers and Deputy Head of Cabinet for the European Commissioners for Health and Consumers, Mr. Kyprianou, and, Mrs. Vassiliou. 

Despina Spanou started her career at the European Commission at the Directorate General for Competition in 2003. Before joining the European Commission she was practising law for a US law firm. She is a qualified lawyer and holds a Ph.D. in European law from the University of Cambridge.


  • Khalil Rouhana Deputy Director-General, DG CONNECT

Title of the presentation: EU Cybersecurity Strategy

Khalil Rouhana is the Deputy Director-General in DG CONNECT (Communications Networks, Content & Technology) since 1/12/2016. His responsibilities include the policies for digital economy and society and notably for research, innovation and industrial strategies, digital solution for societal challenges and governments as well as cybersecurity. Before that he was Director for "Digital Industry" in DG CONNECT supporting the competitiveness of core digital sectors in Europe and the digitisation of all industrial sectors of the economy.

  • Oleg Brodt, R&D Director for Deutsche Telekom Innovation Labs Israel; and Chief Innovation Officer for Cyber @ Ben-Gurion University Oleg Brodt, R&D Director for Deutsche Telekom Innovation Labs Israel; and Chief Innovation Officer for Cyber @ Ben-Gurion University

Title of the presentation: The Future of Cyber Security in the Age of Digital Transformation

Oleg serves as the R&D Director of Deutsche Telekom Innovation Labs Israel, focusing on future technologies in the fields of Cyber Security and Artificial Intelligence; as well as the Chief Innovation Officer for Cyber @ BGU – an umbrella organization responsible for all cyber security related research and industrial collaborations at the Ben Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, Israel (Israel’s Cyber Capital).

  • Bart Preneel, Full Professor at the Dept. Electrical Eng. - ESAT of the KU Leuven

Title of the presentation: Challenges in security and privacy - the role of cryptography

Prof. Bart Preneel is full professor at the Dept. Electrical Eng.-ESAT of the KU Leuven. He heads the imec-COSIC research group, which has 80 members. He has authored more than 400 scientific publications and is inventor of 5 patents. His main research interests are cryptography, information security and privacy. Bart Preneel has served as president of the IACR and is a member of the Academia Europaea. In 2015 he was elected as fellow of the IACR. He frequently consults for industry and governments about security and privacy technologies.