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New law Swiss army to improve cybersecurity

A soldier using a computer

An internal defence ministry audit said the army must improve cybersecurity. 

(Keystone)

Switzerland’s army is to boost its cybersecurity measures in response to increasing attacks on its computer systems. 

The government on Wednesday approved a new law on military cyber-defence, under which the army is to get a special ad hoc cybersecurity unit. This will consist of between 100 and 150 professional IT experts and 400-600 serving soldiers. The law comes into force on March 1. 

Any cybersecurity measures that require hacking into the computer systems of a third party remain subject in peace time to government approval via the defence ministry, now headed by Viola Amherd. 

Former defence minister Guy Parmelin had wanted to dispense with government approval, but backed down following opposition from parliament. 

If, however, the army acts in a case of serious threat to Switzerland’s security, a decision by the army chief is enough. 

The number of attacks on information systems and computer networks has risen strongly and will continue to grow, says a government press releaseexternal link (link in French), and the army can also be the target of attacks. 

“That is why it needs efficient tools to protect and defend itself in cyberspace,” the communiqué continues. “The army must be able to use its own information and computer systems securely – whatever the threat – so as to fulfil its mission and protect the Swiss population.” 

The new measures come after a defence ministry internal audit said in 2017 that the Swiss military was poorly equipped to deal with persistent, long-term cyber-attacks.

 

Keystone-SDA/jc

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