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Swiss plan cyber defence command centre

Defence Minister Viola Amherd and army chief Thomas Süssli in Bern on Wednesday Keystone / Anthony Anex

The government is beefing up its defences against cyberattacks, focusing on a command centre comprising 575 members of the armed forces who will be trained over the coming years.

This content was published on September 1, 2021 - 18:02
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“Not a day goes by without a cyberattack,” Defence Minister Viola Amherd told the media in Bern on Wednesday. IT systems must therefore be better protected – also by the armed forces, she said.

However, army chief Thomas Süssli put things into perspective, saying “it’s not possible to put a soldier behind every user”. The issue now goes to parliament.

Until now the focus of cyber defence has been on the protection of military communication channels and facilities. The new rapid reaction force should be able to provide subsidiary support to operators of critical infrastructures and private companies in the defence against attacks. Infrastructures considered critical by the government include electricity companies, the Federal Railways and telecom companies.

The defence ministry said the plan was to have the specialist staff in position from January 1, 2022, with the number of soldiers increasing from 206 today to 575. However, Süssli said it would “still take some time” until the troops are fully ready.

Mission-oriented

The second piece of the cyber defence puzzle is a new special command. Today’s broadly diversified Command Support Base is to be transformed into a mission-oriented, military cyber command by the beginning of 2024.

In future, this command will provide key military capabilities in the areas of situational awareness, cyber defence, IT, communication, command support, code breaking and electronic warfare.

In May 2019 Switzerland became a member of the NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) in Tallinn, Estonia. This has given Swiss authorities access to the centre’s knowledge and information as well as research and training activities.

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