Czechs build new cyber-security HQ
Czechs build new cyber-security HQ

The Czech National Security Authority (NSA) is establishing a new headquarters for its National Cyber-Security Centre (NCSC) and plans to significantly increase the centre's workforce.

The plan was unveiled late last year (2016) by Martin Ayrer, a spokesperson for the government of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

"The government has approved the proposal to develop the capacity of the National Cyber-Security Centre until 2025. This will strengthen [the country's] protection against cyber-attacks," Ayrer wrote on his Twitter account.

The NCSC is currently operated by 42 employees, but there are plans to increase the office's workforce to 58 by 2018, and up to 400 employees by 2025, according to representatives of the NSA.

Radek Holý, a spokesperson for the National Security Authority, confirmed plans by the institution to increase the centre's workforce tenfold, and said that, under the plan, the new site will be located at a military compound.  This contradicts earlier reports by the local media which indicated that the NBU will rebuild its former facilities. It is expected that the expanded cyber-security centre will be located in Černá Pole, a district of the country's second largest city Brno.

“Cyber-security is very important, the government has made it a strategic priority,” Holý told SCMediaUK.com. 

The expansion is scheduled to be carried out between 2018 to 2023, and it will allow the Czech authorities to significantly increase the NCSC's infrastructure. Among its plans are establishing a new laboratory, training centre and data protection centres at the centre's new premises. 

According to the authority's spokesperson, “among other capacities of the planned Černá Pole headquarters, apart from the forensic laboratory, a specialised polygon is on the table. Protected areas for handling sensitive technologies and classified data are also planned,” Holý said.

The NCSC was established on the basis of the Czech government's October 2011 decision that the NSA should be the national institution responsible for all issues related to cyber-security. The centre operates the Czech government's CERT programme and “plays a key role in safeguarding the critical information infrastructure,” according to the NSA.

Since October 2015, the NCSC has been organising annual cyber-security exercises whose aim is to prepare participants from the key government ministries and other authorities to combat cyber-attacks and solve the resulting incidents. The simulated attacks include DDoS attacks with a varying level of sophistication, cyber-attacks carried out on power plants, and other attempts to damage the country's critical IT infrastructure. 

Prague's efforts are part of a regional trend. As with neighbouring Slovakia, cyber-security was only recently elevated in the Czech Republic to the top of the country's security and defence agenda, according to local analysts. 

Maroš Kirňák, the director of the Cyber Security Programme at the Slovak Security Policy Institute (SSPI), told SCMediaUK.com that Russia's military intervention in Ukraine has played a major role in raising the Slovak authorities' interest in building up national cyber-security capacities.