Cybersecurity Expert: It’s Good to Have a Healthy Amount of Paranoia [Video Interview]

Although primarily a technical issue, cybersecurity is now tied to diplomacy, international relations and governance, said DiploFoundation’s cybersecurity expert Vladimir Radunović. We discussed the current situation in Europe in terms of digital politics and the impact of the EU regulatory framework on global players and the market as such. In addition, Radunović has also shared a couple of useful tips with our readers to help them protect their online privacy.

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vladimir radunovic

Illustration: Milica Mijajlovic

“Innovations turning from functionality to politics” 

Regarding the recently adopted European regulations, including Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, as well as those that are to be expected soon (Al Act) with DiploFoundation Cybersecurity and E-diplomacy Program Director Vladimir Radunović. DiploFoundation is an international NGO that, broadly speaking, is engaged in education and raising awareness in small and developing countries in terms of digital policy, data privacy, etc. 

His position, as he confirmed, indicates that cybersecurity has essentially become a geopolitical issue.  

“When the Internet became a massive thing, since the year 2000 and onwards, when we had millions and then billions of users, all tech and commercial solutions were adopted with functionality in mind. Today that’s no longer the case. Take a look at market segmentation in terms of the value system. Countries are trying to control technologies better, as well as their impact on the value system, regardless of whether we are talking about democracy, autocracy or something else. In this way, innovations are turning from functionality to politics,” Radunović explained for WebMind. 

 “It’s not in anyone’s best interest to leave the European market” 

In addition, he points out that this model leaves room to create regulatory frameworks for countries to protect their sovereignty in a digital world as much as possible, and try to protect citizens’ data on national, local servers.  

“That said, nowadays, our trust in businesses is even more diminished, considering that they are under pressure not only because of the competition in the market, but also because of regulatory frameworks and geopolitics. For example, if you were afraid of FBI surveillance before, you could just put your trust in Apple encryption to hide your whereabouts. Today we can no longer trust companies because it’s no longer only a market issue,” the cybersecurity expert believes.  

However, according to him, there is enough trust in the European regulatory framework designed to protect users’ rights and with which all major companies, including Apple, must comply if they want to do business on European territory. 

“Europe has realized that in the world in which we live, and with its economic power, it can, in a way, influence the regulatory value system in terms of protection of individual rights, human rights, with strong regulations and controlled import of technology. Although these regulations essentially refer to European citizens, since we’re talking about global players, they have to obey these rules if they want to play with Europe”, said Radunović and added that it’s in no one’s best interest to leave this large economic market. 

What does cybersecurity expert recommend to users?
We asked Vladimir Radunović to give WebMind’s readers some practical tips to protect their online privacy as best as possible and avoid possible fraud and cyber attacks.
These are his recommendations:
  1. Turn off GPS when not in use.
  2. You don’t have to document absolutely everything.
  3. It’s not true that“If it wasn’t on Instagram, it didn't happen”.
  4. Be aware that when you send something online, it can’t be taken back again and can even be used against you one day.
  5. Even if you delete a file from a device, if it’s uploaded to the cloud, the file can still be traced.
  6. Practice digital hygiene, be responsible when using your device and think before you act – it’s good to have a healthy amount of paranoia.
  7. However, you shouldn’t apply this kind of “self-censorship” too much. Instead, you should enjoy your basic right to express your opinion and fight for your rights.

 “We talk a lot but don’t fight for our rights enough” 

Although, in his words, China is the most obvious example of human rights and privacy breaches, we are witnessing similar cases in the US and Europe.  

“In certain Chinese cities, facial recognition and surveillance techniques are exceptionally well developed, with the explanation that it adds to society’s security. This is a serious debate that should be led in the right way. In addition, when you are entering the US soil, you might be asked to hand over your phone for inspection – again, for national security reasons. Border officers have the right to ask to look into your phone, and, if you refuse to give it away, they might ban you from entering the country,” our interlocutor explained.  

For the same reasons, he emphasized the importance of being an active citizen who participates in public debates and fights for his/her rights and the regulatory framework.  

“You would probably think that being an active citizen is common sense, but it’s not like that. We, as users, are very passive. We talk about it a lot but we don’t fight for our rights enough, which should actually be very important. At this moment, the internet is a leading source of information, especially for younger generations. It gives you an opportunity to literally alter the reality – whether that’s a war in Ukraine, elections in Serbia or protests in China. It’s very hard to check who is behind some information and whether the information is accurate, or how accurate it is. And this will continue to happen even more in the future,” he pointed out. 

When asked how to defend ourselves, he instantly responded – with awareness.  

“Awareness comes first. We all bear responsibility regarding the content we share because we, citizens, also assume a role of a journalist in a way. And journalists should be able to take responsibility for their every word and its interpretation. And, naturally, we also have regulatory frameworks, but this is a more delicate issue”, Radunović concluded.  

Watch the whole interview on the link. 

A journalist by day and a podcaster by night. She's not writing to impress but to be understood.