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“Investigative article: Aspects to pay close attention to: Security and privacy of electronic services in RNM (IV)” – Portalb.mk

Cyber-security is one of the biggest challenges facing the modern digital world. Advances in technology and its inclusion in every segment of the functioning of society and state systems have also brought the risk of cyberattacks, certain structures or groups obtaining the data or information, which are super strong artillery to gain/cause great harm or great benefits, both financially and politically.

According to data published by Eurostat, in 2019, 33% of European Union citizens aged 16 to 74 had incidents related to cyber-security.

According to the National Cyber Security Index (NCSI), which measures more than three-quarters of the world’s cybersecurity estimates, the top ten countries best prepared for cyber attacks are Greece, the Czech Republic and Estonia, Lithuania, Spain, Croatia and France, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands. North Macedonia is ranked 63rd, or from the European countries, is in a better position only than Montenegro and Albania.

While the most developed European countries are facing this phenomenon, North Macedonia obviously cannot be immune to cyberattacks, although so far we have not heard of any cyber attacks of a more serious scale or theft of data from state platforms that have information about citizens and which provide electronic services to the citizens of North Macedonia.

While the most developed European countries are facing this phenomenon, North Macedonia obviously cannot be immune to cyberattacks, although so far we have not heard of any cyber attacks of a more serious scale or theft of data from state platforms that have information about citizens and which provide electronic services to the citizens of North Macedonia.

During the last parliamentary elections held on 15 July, an unknown group under the pseudonym “Anonymous” blocked the website of the State Election Commission where the election results were published, exactly on the day of the elections. The citizens did not receive official information from the Commission for days. At the same time, they blocked the website of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, but also the news aggregator Time.mk. There have been attacks at this level before, but the attacker is still unknown.

Bardhyl Jashari

Information technology expert, Bardhyl Jashari, believes that the success of electronic services depends on the readiness of the institutions that provide these services to prevent and eliminate numerous potential threats, ranging from simple acts on information piracy (hacking) to the most serious attacks – cyber terrorism.

In Macedonia, he says, the few services provided electronically are relatively secure, though not at a perfect level, as this is not possible.

“There is no system that is 100 percent secure, so electronic services can never be 100 percent secure, but that does not mean that we should not use them and that we should not ask for as many electronic services as possible because it facilitates our work and makes it more efficient (we do not waste time waiting at the counters). Also, constant efforts should be made to increase the security of services and this is done only if we – users/citizens seek and use better services. In Macedonia, the few services provided electronically are relatively secure and we have not heard of serious problems with any of the services offered,” Jashari said.

What is often missing, according to him, are clear security protocols in the competent institutions, clear instructions for the use of the offered services, as well as privacy policies, which would increase the trust and the use of electronic services.

“The three main mechanisms that provide the basis for the security of electronic services include authentication, control of access to certain data and services and auditing (during this process, data is collected on the activity of the system during the use of the service). In all three mechanisms, a lot of work needs to be done in all institutions and at all levels, especially in the electronic services offered by the municipalities at the local level, which do not have the appropriate technical training, but also the necessary knowledge to provide secure electronic services “- says Jashari.

 Elena Stojanovska

On the other hand, the expert on personal data protection, Elena Stojanovska, in an analysis for Portalb.mk, estimates that the increasing trend of providing as many services of state institutions to citizens electronically, in addition to requiring continuous monitoring of technological development, advancing the knowledge and changing the habits of the citizens, requires a precise finding of measures for the protection of the personal data of citizens.

According to her, most electronic services in the country do not have a transparent or easily accessible privacy policy.

“Different institutions make their services available to citizens in different ways, so it is inevitable to look for different models of establishing a system for the protection and security of personal data. Common to most current e-services is the lack of transparency or free access to the privacy policy,” Stojanovska said.

You can read the full analysis: HERE

This Investigative article was produced as part of the project Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA, co-funded by the European Union and implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation (North Macedonia), the Academy of e-Governance (Estonia), Levizja Mjaft! (Albania), CRTA – Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (Serbia), NGO 35mm (Montenegro) and ODK – Open Data Kosovo (Kosovo). The project is being implemented with financial support from the European Union.

This Investigative article was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Metamorphosis Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.