«Nurturing a Collaborative Cybersecurity Ecosystem in Ukraine»: the Cybersecurity Dialogue Discussion

On September 14th, the USAID Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure in Ukraine Activity, in partnership with Aspen Institute Kyiv, held the third Cybersecurity Dialogue Program event on «Nurturing a Collaborative Cybersecurity Ecosystem in Ukraine.» This event aimed to foster the development of the cybersecurity ecosystem in Ukraine during wartime by facilitating collaboration and exploring potential joint initiatives among market players.

The Dialogue brought together representatives from the cybersecurity market, business associations, and civil organizations supporting the development of the cybersecurity market in Ukraine.

In his opening remarks, Denіs Poltavets, Director of Program Development at the Aspen Institute Kyiv, expressed gratitude to the USAID “Cybersecurity of Ukraine’s Critical Infrastructure” Project for enabling the implementation of a program aimed at fostering cross-sectoral Dialogue to support the development of the cybersecurity market. He emphasized that the professional community’s active engagement would positively impact the cybersecurity market and help analyze and forecast ways to achieve its development.

During the first session, “Empowering Networks: Business Associations as Agents of Collaborative Interaction,” speakers discussed the mechanisms for creating influential associations and communities to promote market development. Maria Shevchuk, Acting Director, IT Ukraine Association, Yurii Ohonovskyi, Deputy CEO, Lviv IT Cluster, highlighted the critical need to unite cybersecurity market participants to advance the market and protect their interests. They also outlined essential requirements for the effective operation of associations:

  •  Understanding the needs and precise demands of cybersecurity market participants to address them effectively.
  • Associations should be self-sufficient, with their financing not dependent on the state or grants and not tied to a single project.
  • Creating new job opportunities by uniting existing companies within associations rather than establishing new ones. Merging companies can lead to the emergence of new functions, resulting in job creation.
  • Addressing the issue of public awareness and understanding the importance of cybersecurity for safeguarding data.
  • Ensuring that any association has a clear purpose for the products it creates and maintains communication with stakeholders. It should also define clear KPIs.
  • The formation of associations can be informal to facilitate swift communication among members for problem-solving.

During the session on “Unveiling the Obstacles: Identifying Collaborative Challenges in the Cybersecurity Market,” participants discussed the challenges faced by the cybersecurity market. Yegor Aushev, CEO, CyberUnit.tech, Roman Sologub, CEO, ISSP, Oleksiy Sevonkin, BDM, Octava Defense, named the following challenges:

  • In the early stage of cybersecurity market development, market players are just beginning to understand the importance of collaboration and mutual support for market development and the protection of interests.
  • The potential “toxicity” of newly established associations that lack a shared vision for market development creates obstacles for their members.
  • The absence of a strategic vision for association development and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
  • The need for leadership that drives association development.
  •  Limited interaction between cybersecurity market representatives and the government in developing effective legislative frameworks.

During group work, participants discussed possible ways to address issues related to existing associations and other forms of collaboration. They explored methods to enhance the efficiency of these organizations, the development of new forms of associations, and their respective tasks, including:

  • Understanding the needs and precise demands of the cybersecurity market to determine whether to form new associations.
  • Establishing a dedicated management team responsible for association management and interaction with the government.
  • Implementing lobbying practices through existing or new associations in the field.
  • Defining tasks relevant to most association members, ensuring their commitment to problem-solving for the broader community.
  • Developing mechanisms for diversified financing through association members, donors, and other funding sources.

Oleksandr Smychnikov, Business Consulting Director, 10Guards LLC, moderated the Dialogue. 

During 2022–2024, 10 stakeholders dialogues and 5 seminars will be held to discuss and find better solutions in the Сybersecurity field to build and improve Ukraine’s cyber resilience. 

The Cybersecurity Dialogue Program was made possible through support provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development under a grant provided by the USAID Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure in Ukraine Activity.