Emilia Pecheva

SIN Officer for Bulgaria and Romania

Guest blogger for Rosie Duthie

17th December 2019

Cyber Security Challenge – SIN Bulgaria

On 2-4 October 2019 I attended the 1st International scientific conference on Digital transformation, cyber security and resilience “DIGILIENCE” in Bulgaria. The event brought together international research and policy makers in cyber security to discuss the state of the art and future demands in the provision of security and resilience of processes, services and systems that are heavily reliant on information technologies.

Key cyber security policy makers, EU and NATO representatives, leading practitioners from Bulgarian government, universities and research institutes were present which was a fantastic demonstration of the growing recognition and importance of cyber security. Everyone should understand that the cyberspace is borderless and no country is able to cope with the challenges alone. We need international mitigations or solutions – cyber security is a foreign policy issue as much as a technical, national or industry issue. The UK works with the EU, NATO, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the UN, and bilaterally with countries on six continents to protect the future of a free open, peaceful and secure cyberspace.

As a SIN officer for Bulgaria I saw the conference as an excellent opportunity to showcase internationally UK expertise and leadership in cyber security and cyber-related AI. I was happy to support the participation of two distinguished UK Professors from Coventry University and University of Sheffield (photos above) and thus to position UK as Bulgarian’s partner of choice in cyber security and facilitate UK-Bulgarian research collaboration. Both keynote talks on “Assistive AI tools for analysing false content, disinformation flows, and online influence campaigns” and “Cyber-physical systems security: research challenges and opportunities” were accepted with genuine interest and provoked intensive discussions with our charismatic lecturers from the UK.

DHM in Sofia Lynne Charles (photo on the right) gave an opening speech at the event and spoke about how UK-Bulgarian relations in cyber security with Bulgarian government and research institutions are developing.


In these challenging times, we have been able to generate a positive and engaging environment that has allowed our contacts to focus on what matters – the science. The event was used to reiterate the UK’s commitment to a close EU-UK partnership on science and innovation. Contacts with researchers from other EU countries possible during such international events also multiply the opportunities for UK researchers to access funds through EU programmes that may not be as easily accessible following the UK’s exit from the EU.

Forward look

Bulgarian researchers recognise the UK as a champion in cyber security and are willing to adopt elements of the UK best practice in their strategies. I am currently organising a follow-up meeting of the chief digital officer of Coventry University to give consultations to decision makers in Bulgaria on the digital transformation of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, higher education and public administration, giving us the opportunity to directly influence the development of Bulgarian cyber security policy.