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‘Save’ our world

Dr. Miklós SesztákIssue:Global-ICT 2015
Article no.:5
Topic:'Save’ our world
Author:Dr. Miklós Seszták
Title:Minister
Organisation:Ministry of National Development, Hungary
PDF size:393KB

About author


Dr. Miklós Seszták has been the Minister of National Development, Hungary
since 2014. He has been a Member of Parliament since 2010.

Prior to 2010, Dr Seszták has held the following positions: Member of the General Assembly of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County (2002-2010); Member of the Body of Representatives of the Town of Kisvárda (1998), and lawyer/law office (1996-2014).

Dr Seszták graduated as a jurist, Faculty of Law and Public Administration, Eötvös Loránd University (1994), was a trainee lawyer (1994-1996) and is fluent in English.

Article abstract

Information security is not only an issue for state organs, but also for market actors. Here the scope for supervision is limited, and it is not our goal for the Government “to meddle” in this. However, the Government must use the tools available to uncover the potential data security risks in technical developments and to inform business sector actors of these, and to advise on how these can be combated effectively. 

Full Article

In his famous book A Hacker Manifesto, McKenzie Wark says that: “We do not own what we produce – it owns us”. Today this thought has become one of the fundamental principles of information security. We have created a digital universe, which we think that we control. The truth, however, is that the information flow of incredible size and speed roaring along this virtual superhighway can easily “rise over our heads”, and might take control of us if we do not use data security tools smartly, and in a manner in keeping with the issue’s importance.

Cloud Computing, the Internet of Things, Big Data: just a few of the watchwords gaining increasing importance in our everyday lives. As the Hungarian government’s Minister of National Development, I am aware of the fact that in my country also the continuous development of IT technologies provides new opportunities and creates new needs and challenges. Today it is a basic demand, both in private and work life, to have access to everything, anywhere, anyhow. This information – on the weather, traffic, cultural events or anything else – is literally “at hand”.

Whether through a notebook, a tablet or a smart phone, we are constantly “connected” to various services and applications. We move data between our own devices and service providers’ servers or clouds. Borders are becoming increasingly blurred. We can access private cloud storage from our work devices, and we can regularly check our work emails – or even workflow – from our private tablets or smart phones. We have become our own one-person, constantly roaming offices, but we can also document our personal lives almost minute by minute on social networking websites, photo-sharing sites or just for the fun of it.

The accelerating speed of our era has resulted in our personal and confidential data and work-related business information no longer being under lock and key; they are constantly on the move. The benefits and convenience of dynamic access are undeniable, but questions justifiably arise: Are we safe? Is the way we forward data safe? How vulnerable are the operating systems of the devices we use? And what can we do in order to prevent the efficient and now inevitable use of new technologies from increasing security risks?

As the Hungarian Minister in charge of IT – and as host of the 2014 ITU Telecom World Conference – I believe these questions are especially important. The IT sector accounts for twelve per cent of Hungary’s annual GDP, therefore the Government also plays an important, double role in the market sector. On the one hand, the expansion of modern technologies must be promoted, as there are good reasons for their popularity: cloud services meet our needs with unprecedented flexibility and efficiency. Companies that are not able to keep up with this trend can already expect serious competitive disadvantages in the mid-term future. On the other hand, it is also our duty to attend to information security.

Therefore an important aim of Hungary’s National Info-communication Strategy is to give incentives to our companies and to promote the use of the latest technologies, in order to be successful and efficient, and to achieve the best possible results. A strategic goal is for public administration services to also keep up with developments, thus ensuring quality services for citizens. In order to achieve these goals, in 2015 we have launched a government programme of unprecedented size and funding, called “Digital Hungary”. This project is based on four pillars – superfast internet, digital community and economy, e-public services and development of digital skills – and aims to improve the whole Hungarian ICT environment by 2020. By 2018 broadband internet will have been brought into all households, and by 2020 we will expand the scope of electronic public services, making them more efficient. We wish to further improve quality of life for Hungarians and make their everyday lives easier with programmes aimed at promoting digital literacy.

Naturally the Government bears great responsibility in ensuring that the use of new technologies does not harm the security of data of individuals and companies. First, a government must clean up its own backyard. When developing electronic public administration services, it is of the utmost importance that the security of networks, systems, processes and user data is maximally ensured.

One of the keys to success in electronic public administration services is that citizens and companies trust the state. We must ensure that our systems function continuously, that services are accessible, and that the data provided can only be used for the purposes intended and can only be seen by the systems and people authorized to do so. All this is guaranteed by law in Hungary, and compliance is supervised by the relevant authorities. Security incidents are investigated by the Government Incident Response Centre (GovCert), which is in touch with the international CERT centres. I can announce that the Hungarian state’s IT security protection is successful and effective. As elsewhere, there have, of course, been incidents of varying severity in Hungary in recent years, but our well-prepared authorities have been able to handle these.

Information security is not only an issue for state organs, but also for market actors. Here the scope for supervision is limited, and it is not our goal for the Government “to meddle” in this. However, the Government must use the tools available to uncover the potential data security risks in technical developments and to inform business sector actors of these, and to advise on how these can be combated effectively. For this reason we have launched a number of training courses and awareness-raising campaigns in Hungary.

It was Benjamin Franklin who said that “Those who give up their liberty for more security neither deserve liberty nor security”. I firmly believe that we do not have to give up either. Data and information security is the basis of believing and trusting development. If we can find the appropriate balance, neither our liberty nor our security will be endangered. Because we deserve both.

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