The 2021 U.S.-Taiwan Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy Forum co-organized by the Department of International Cooperation and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) was held on Nov. 9, 2021, with Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Chuan-Neng Lin and AIT Deputy Director Jeremy Cornforth delivering keynote speeches at the physical/virtual hybrid event.
The forum featured a series of presentations by cybersecurity experts sharing their insights and practical experience with more than 700 participants from a range of sectors including critical infrastructure, communication networks, industrial computers, information technology and aviation. The experts also discussed broad and in-depth cybersecurity management strategies regarding setting up a joint U.S.-Taiwan cybersecurity defense mechanism.
In his opening speech, Minister Lin pointed out that the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has always viewed establishing a Taiwan-U.S. cybersecurity cooperation platform as an important element in its promotion of the digital transformation of businesses and the development of technology. The Minister, who serves as the MOEA's chief information security officer, stressed that improving an organization's cyber defenses is a constant ongoing task. He also noted that in August 2020 Taiwan and the U.S. signed a joint declaration on 5G wireless communications networks security in which they stressed the importance of prudent evaluation of hardware and software suppliers to ensure a secure and resilient 5G ecosystem.
Minister Lin further mentioned that the U.S. government last December announced the establishment of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) framework to assess its contractors' security, capability and resilience with the aim of eliminating supply chain vulnerabilities. The MOEA has taken the lead in planning a similar mechanism, using the CMMC as a model, to assess the cybersecurity maturity of Taiwan firms in order to assist them in meeting cybersecurity standards and serving as trusted supply chain partners delivering reliable products and services.
Noting that cybersecurity is one of the key sectors listed in President Tsai Ing-wen's Six Core Strategic Industries initiative, Minister Lin said that the MOEA has been working to enhance Taiwan's cybersecurity capabilities through a range of endeavors such as R&D, product security testing, talent training, and the establishment of testbeds. He added that the Ministry will continue actively carrying out measures aimed at fostering the development of a complete cybersecurity ecosystem that meets the U.S.-based National Institute of Science & Technologies' cybersecurity standards and guidelines.
Meanwhile, AIT Deputy Director Cornforth in his speech thanked the forum organizers, saying that in the face of growing global cyber threats, Taiwan has become an essential partner of the U.S. as it works to steadily strengthen its defenses. He noted that the Biden administration has taken a number of important steps on this front, such as signing a national security memorandum that aims to boost cybersecurity for critical infrastructure and set ups an industrial management system on cybersecurity.
The U.S. has continued to boost cooperation with Taiwan, including through various initiatives to assist the public and private sectors in responding to various types of cyberattacks and in enhancing their overall cyber defenses, the Deputy Director pointed out.
Nevertheless, he added, cyber threats continue to pose a severe challenge to global companies, including with respect to endless supply chain intrusion risks and borderless ransomware attacks that are difficult to trace. Therefore, advanced deployment and strengthening of cybersecurity resilience are important keys to cultivating a company's competitiveness.
Participants from cybersecurity firms said at the forum that they believe Taiwan industry should take active countermeasures to ensure supply chain members in key sectors such as semiconductors, IoT, infrastructure and 5G possess fundamental cybersecurity capabilities. Firms should adopt a zero trust architecture and employ pro-active strategies as well as diverse methods to ensure maximum cyber defenses. The participants expressed the most interest in cybersecurity defense mechanisms for ransomware attacks, theft of confidential data, and scareware attacks. The warning signs from these frequent cybersecurity incidents are not only a national challenge but also a major opportunity for the cybersecurity sector to develop effective defense mechanisms and technology.
With the rapid development of 5G, industry has already moved on from digital transformation to the smart transformation stage, which has greatly increased cybersecurity risks to companies. Taiwan will continue to engage in cooperation with like-minded nations such as the U.S. on establishing cybersecurity joint defense systems for cross-border supply chains and jointly building a defense strategy to realize the long-term goal of global digital economic development.
As 5G and AIoT are two important areas of cooperation between Taiwan and the U.S., the MOEA and AIT have also co-organized a Cybersecurity for 5G-AIoT Industry Seminar to be held at Kaohsiung Software Park on Dec. 9, 2021, with the aim of assisting more southern Taiwan enterprises in these sectors to enhance their cybersecurity capabilities through the Taiwan-U.S. partnership.