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Chevening Cyber Security Fellowship, an UK Investment to Increase WB’s Response to Security Challenges

Chevening Cyber Security Fellowship, an UK Investment to Increase WB’s Response to Security Challenges

“By increasing the capability of Western Balkan states to detect and mitigate cyber-attacks in real time, this will reduce the potential impact of incidents on the UK,” Marsida Gjonçaj, Political Officer and Communications Manager at British Embassy in Tirana told FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA.

 

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“The idea behind Chevening Western Balkans Cyber Security Fellowship 2019 is to continue to strengthen and modernise the connection between UK and WB, to build the cooperation needed to tackle common threats, such as organised crime, drug trafficking, smuggling and terrorism.”

This was stated by Marsida Gjonçaj, Political Officer and Communications Manager at British Embassy in Tirana in an exclusive interview with FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA.

The Chevening Cyber Security Fellowship is a 10-week fully funded residential programme delivered at Cranfield University at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. The Fellowship begins in January 2019.

“The programme will enable professionals in the field to further develop their expertise and talent, so that they are better prepared to tackle future security challenges. By funding this fellowship, the UK government is helping to strengthen the region’s own response to organised crime, corruption and cyber threats,” Gjonçaj said, highlighting that ‘the levels of interconnectivity we are witnessing today mean that a cyber-attack in one part of the world can quickly spread to affect users elsewhere.”

 

The Chevening Western Balkans Cyber Security Fellowship 2019 has an interesting focus this year: the cyber security.  In your view, how important is this fellowship for the professionals from Albania in particular and Balkans’ in general?  Is this a way to make them able to face the challenges of the future?

 

The UK is enhancing its support to Western Balkans Six countries’ cyber capability through a package of training activities. This package will enhance cybersecurity governance in the region with a focus on supporting national, regional and international cooperation on cyber security issues. The Cyber Security Fellowship for the Western Balkans was identified as an important area to invest in at the Western Balkans Summit, hosted by the UK government in July. The idea behind it is to continue to strengthen and modernise the connection between UK and WB, to build the cooperation needed to tackle common threats, such as organised crime, drug trafficking, smuggling and terrorism. The programme will therefore enable professionals in the field to further develop their expertise and talent, so that they are better prepared to tackle future security challenges. By funding this fellowship, the UK government is helping to strengthen the region’s own response to organised crime, corruption and cyber threats.  

 

By supporting this topic, are the UK authorities keen to accelerate the sharing of ideas and expertise in the field of cyber security? What can you say about the UK experience in this respect?

 

The authorities in UK and Albania, but also other countries in the region, already have a good cooperation, when it comes to tackling common security challenges. For instance, various joint operations have led to the disruption of criminal activities with an impact on both the UK and WB countries. But, as we have seen in recent years, the levels of interconnectivity we are witnessing today mean that a cyber-attack in one part of the world can quickly spread to affect users elsewhere. By increasing the capability of Western Balkan states to detect and mitigate cyber-attacks in real time, this will reduce the potential impact of incidents on the UK.

 

What should the applicants take into account prior to applying?  Do you find a lot of interest among the applicants?

 

The Chevening Western Balkans Cyber Security Fellowship is still open for applications and is aimed at mid-career professionals with demonstrable leadership potential within the field of cyber security. This will complement the Chevening scholarship programme which is already in operation in the region. It will provide fellows with an understanding of public policy on cyber security, implications for national security, commercial opportunity, governance structures, online business technology and consumer protection, and accountability and the law. The next programme will commence in January 2019 for ten weeks at Cranfield University. Apart from the usual Chevening requirements, candidates for this fellowship must also have excellent written and spoken English, significant work experience in the cyber security, cyber-crime or cyber policy issues and experience in public speaking and networking. Candidates must also be residents of and currently live in one of the WB countries. 

 

Will the Embassy follow the students up once back, so they can contribute in various projects pertaining to cyber security?

 

After completing their fellowship in the UK, the fellows will become part of the large, global, influential Chevening community, with whom Embassies in all the countries where Chevening runs engage continuously. The Western Balkans is at the heart of Europe and in an increasingly globalised world, their response to security threats has a UK impact. For example, organised crime, drug trafficking, smuggling and terrorism affects ordinary people in the region and in the UK. The UK, therefore have a shared interest in enhancing the WB’s response and this fellowship will help to improve cooperation between authorities in the region.

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