In the past decade, the cyber domain, or cyberspace, has become the most challenging and pressing issue of recent times in the area of international security. In an ultra-connected world, where information travels at an uncontrollable rate and data is becoming the new resource to be mined; it ultimately affects every aspect of modern life. From the economy to civil liberties, it has become the new focus of national security strategies and legal frameworks.
Over the past two decades, the European Union (EU) has intensely recalibrated its strategies to fulfil its mission of promoting peace and security and guaranteeing democracy, rule of law, freedoms, human rights, and equality to its citizens. Given the increase in non-conventional threats in the cyber, hybrid, and “cybrid” domains, the EU has started to strengthen its response to this changing security environment. In this context, technological change has become the main character in a society whose governments, economies, people, and armies are highly dependent on hyper-connectivity and impacted by it. The technological transition has transformed how enemies attack their counterparts, fostering digital rivalries and tighter industry competition. To this end, the Union has recently launched the EU’s Secure Connectivity Programme (2023-2027), which encloses the third EU constellation of strategic space infrastructures called IRIS2. The latter, inter alia, has been designed to foster strategic autonomy in the Union, thereby reducing foreign dependencies. It is fundamental for the Union to enhance its ability to respond and counter cyber challenges with a comprehensive and collaborative approach, as individual and protectionist actions from the Member States obstruct the achievement of a higher degree of strategic autonomy in the technological and defence arenas.
With the recognition of cyberspace as a domain of operation, conducting covert cyber espionage and cyber interference has become more accessible, threatening public institutions and global companies. Hence, cyberspace plays a part in modern warfare. It offers many opportunities but also brings great challenges for national security.