Cybersecurity: a growing IT sector in Kaunas

  • 2020-08-09
  • Sima Mažutavičiūtė

The internet era opens up new opportunities to follow the news, communicate, and easily perform daily tasks. However, few people pay attention to the great efforts made by the state and business for all of us to be safe online. Kaunas aims at becoming one of the centers of the cyber security sector in the region because it has a branch of the National Cyber ​​Security Center under the Ministry of National Defense which ensures not only national but also regional supervision, as well as new companies are being constantly established here and innovations created.

According to the Global Cyber Security Index announced in 2019, Lithuania ranks 4th, just below the United Kingdom, the United States, and France, and is part of the group of countries that pay the most attention to cyber security.

According to experts of the National Cyber Security Center, the processes in the field of cyber security are determined by the legislation and recommendations adopted by the EU, rapidly developing information and communication technologies, as well as the tense geopolitical situation.

"An increasingly larger part of our lives is moving into the digital space. We are inevitably moving towards the internet of things, so the need to ensure the security of all of us in cyber space is constantly growing. We are glad that this area, which will grow even more in the future, is being intensively developed in Kaunas. The local and international talents as well as successful higher education institutions form a strong basis for further development of this sector," notes Andrius Veršinskas, Head of the business department of Kaunas IN - business, tourism and international marketing agency.

Will take care of the security of the whole region

Since 2018, when the National Cyber Security Center under the Ministry of National Defense was established, a strategic decision was soon made to establish a branch in Kaunas.

"Kaunas was chosen for the establishment of such a center for a reason. The possibilities of attracting new specialists in the city were assessed along with the influence of a strong technological university and good working conditions and infrastructure," Dr. Rytis Nainys, head of National Cyber Security Center, says.

The Cyber Security Center currently operating in Kaunas is still in the establishment phase, the infrastructure and service package of the center are being prepared, and 2 of the planned 6 units are operating. The new center in Kaunas will operate as a subdivision of the National Cyber Security Center, from which the EU rapid reaction cyber ​​force - initiated by Lithuania - could be managed. The plan envisages allocating almost 1.3 million Euro to the center, which will be developed jointly with the United States and involve as many countries as possible in its work. Due to the pandemic-caused restrictions still in place in the world, Lithuania waits for the partners of the center (the US, Georgia, and Ukraine) to no longer be constrained by the quarantine of COVID-19, so that the joint work could continue.

Currently, The Cyber Security Center has over 20 employees. All of them are IT specialists including one person with a doctoral degree. In terms of innovation, work is underway to develop new tools and instruments to combat cyber threats more effectively in the future. For example, encryption devices in telephones for information transmission or artificial intelligence systems for next-generation sensors. The center also has qualified specialists and equipment required for security research of applications and hardware.

From specialized units to companies

The formation of a cyber security cluster in Kaunas is greatly influenced not only by the center established by the public sector, which takes care of the region's security but also by private companies and their specialized units. Such as the creator and developer of security programs for personal computers Enigma Software or CUJO AI -  founded by Kaunas residents in the US - rapidly growing due to its advanced technologies. Not to mention that a significant number of IT companies operating in the city have employees or departments working with cyber security. The city's potential in this area was also discovered by those investors who came to Kaunas due to the functions of other business service centers. A great example is the credit risk assessment and information solutions company TransUnion, which added a 24/7 IT security team to its functions in Kaunas a couple of years ago.

Web security technologies are being created in Kaunas

There is no shortage of start-ups developing cyber security solutions in the city. After the Zenedge start-up was created in Los Angeles (USA) in 2014, its engineering department for product development and improvement was opened in Kaunas. In 2018 the startup was acquired by Oracle, which was looking for a partner who could provide exceptional network and infrastructure security. Currently, the Kaunas applied research team is working on the OCI Web Application Firewall. This service provides web programmers and security professionals with tools that help protect websites, systems, and programs from ever-growing cyber threats with smart security. "Kaunas residents were chosen because of their web security technologies that added to Oracle's cloud computing solution's Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) product portfolio," Andrius Skunčikas, Oracle's CEO in the Baltics, says.

The Kaunas Applied Research Team consists of cyber security specialists from various fields, web programmers, distributed systems engineers, and security operations professionals.

According to A. Skunčikas, Oracle's cloud computing solution Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) provides services to a wide range of businesses and is designed for critical business processes around the world. A great example is Zoom, which has used OCI solutions to expand its platform's capacity to tens of millions of video conferences per day. This allowed the company to adapt to the new teleworking conditions almost overnight. Companies are making extensive use of cloud computing to implement complex solutions, so a reliable cloud computing platform and state- of-the-art cyber security solutions are essential for the successful growth of a variety of businesses and economies.

The synergy between competencies and specialist cultivation

As A. Veršinskas emphasizes, today, we can talk about Kaunas as one of the cyber security centers in the region. And not only because of the National Cyber Security Center, which is growing the city's potential in the field of cyber security with a strong focus on applied research. More importantly, higher education institutions operating in Kaunas are constantly fostering new competent professionals. They have specialized bachelor's and master's programs at Kaunas University of Technology and Kaunas Faculty of Vilnius University, as well as courses at Vytautas Magnus University and Kaunas College. Thus, there is no doubt that in the future more and more Kaunas residents will take care of the internet safety of the entire population of the region.

Kaunas IN business department information.