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Government Cybersecurity: Every Country for Itself?

Germany will develop its own cybersecurity technology to no longer depend on solutions from companies in the U.S. and other countries to protect its vital networks, a top official said.

It’s going to be the job of a new agency, sprung from a collaboration of Germany’s interior and defense ministries, to fund research to develop new cybersecurity tools that fit the country’s needs, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (pictured above) said at a new conference, Reuters reported.

There are two other angles to the initiative — Germany wants to position itself as a cybersecurity rival to the U.S., China, Russia and Israel on the short list of international providers, and it wants to play a role in fortifying European security.

“It is our joint goal for Germany to take a leading role in cyber security on an international level,” Seehofer told a news conference with Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen. “We have to acknowledge we’re lagging behind, and when one is lagging, one needs completely new approaches.” (via Reuters)

The officials didn’t say if the higher priority was to compete on the international stage, develop a home grown product or help protect European assets, or if they all weigh similarly.

Cybersecurity: Every Country For Itself?

Still, Germany’s stated desire to build its own and join the competition among global providers raises the question if others will follow suit, looking to go it alone on cybersecurity rather than buy solutions built elsewhere. The idea, of course, isn’t necessarily monetary but rather lies in developing products that meet your own unique needs.

Entrance into the international market for cybersecurity providers won’t simply be a matter of building a better product — it’s crowded out there. How many cybersecurity developers of one form or another exist worldwide? It’s a difficult number to accurately catalog but one jumping off point is the 500 firms that Cybersecurity Ventures listed as those to watch this year. Among them, 41 are based in Israel, 27 in the U.K., nine in China, seven in Germany, and one in Russia (Kaspersky, a major global player). More than 350 are located in the U.S.

Germeny’s cyber project also will face headwinds, as Reuters reported. “This agency wouldn’t increase our information technology security, but further endanger it,” said Greens political party lawmaker Konstantin von Notz. It would, he said, run counter to Germany’s diplomatic efforts to limit the use of cyber weapons internationally. “We can only lose a cyber politics arms race with states like China, North Korea or Russia,” he said, contending that Germany’s “scarce resources” would best be concentrated on fixing its vulnerable systems.

Seehofer, however, sees the effort as a look ahead. “As a federal government we cannot stand idly by when the use of sensitive technology with high security relevance are controlled by other governments. We must secure and expand such key technologies of our digital infrastructure,” he said, as Reuters reported.

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