Mexico: Identifying best practices on cybersecurity through cooperation

17 Dec 2017 17:00h - 18:00h

Event report

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Opening the session, which was organised by the National Digital Strategy of the Presidency, Mexico, Mr Victor Lagunes, Chief Information Officer, the Presidency, Mexico, outlined the objectives, guiding principles, and transversal axes of the country’s National Strategy on Cybersecurity.

Across the world, countries are trying to implement similar initiatives, but they are often hindered by citizens’ growing perception of the curtailment of their rights. The primary concern, then, is ‘how to protect citizens online while protecting their rights’. To avoid this gridlock, Lagunes noted, the Mexican government opted for designing the national strategy as openly and transparently as possible. Thus, the original draft for the strategy was posted to an online platform, where the general public could comment on it. The strategy’s coordination team also held physical forums and workshops, inviting international experts to discuss the drafts. Similarly, other government branches, like the legislative chambers and the attorney general’s office were offered the opportunity to offer input on the document.  Afterwards, observations from both experts and laypeople were considered for the document’s final form, which outlines objectives and assigns responsibilities.

First, the strategy was based on three guiding principles: the human rights perspective, a risk management-based focus, and the multidisciplinary collaboration of multiple actors. These three priorities govern the document’s general objective, namely: to ‘identify and establish the cybersecurity actions applicable to the social, economic and political areas, that enable populations and public and private organisations to use Information and Communication Technology in a responsible way, for the sustainable development of the Mexican state’.

To help achieve the main objective it, five strategic objectives were proposed:

  • Society and rights
  • Economy and innovation
  • Public institutions
  • Public security
  • National security

These, in turn, inform the strategy’s eight transversal axes, which Lagunes analysed in more detail.

  1. Mexico must focus on enhancing its cybersecurity culture. This pertains mainly to prevention and awareness.
  2. Capacity building must be highlighted, meaning generating and strengthening technological and human capital capabilities in organisations.
  3. Coordination and collaboration must provide an integrated approach to channel efforts toward the common goal of a safer cyberspace.
  4. Mexico must emphasise ICT research, development, and innovation to promote an environment conducive to innovation, and this means investing in research and development.
  5. Because different actors must collaborate, standards and technical criteria must be developed to enable different actors to speak the same language, ensuring effective communication.
  6. Critical infrastructures must be considered, not only with regard to the Mexican ICT sector, but also to all other sensitive services (such as utilities, or fossil fuels) that rely on technologies based on cyberspace for their daily activities.
  7. A legal framework and self-regulation are vital for the development of digitisation in the world and key for the prevention of risks and threats, as well as for strengthening the trust
    between society, the private sector, and public institutions.
  8. To ensure follow-up and proper evaluation, measuring and monitoring are indispensable to the strategy.

To conclude, Lagunes reiterated the openness of the strategy’s creation process. To him, the challenge is not so much that of creating a national policy in cybersecurity, but to be able to achieve that while respecting citizens’ rights.

The following Q&A comprised questions on the topics of the criminalization of online activities, whether members of Mexican civil society can still contribute to the strategy, how well the axes reflect the objectives, and what other countries served as inspiration for the Mexican model.

By Guilherme Cooper Vicente