WEASA P2P Meeting of Giorgi Iashvili: Improving the cyber resilience of the State Election Commission of North Macedonia
Another exciting story related to the WEASA P2P Meetings is initiated by our active Georgian alumnus Giorgi Iashvili to North Macedonia, where he was being hosted by another engaged alumnae Marija Gjorgieva.
Since attending the summer academy for the first time in 2017, Giorgi has been connected with WEASA. He has actively participated in alumni events, been promoting WEASA, and also has been granted the honour of being a Speaker of WEASA in 2022.
He is an information security professional with over 15 years of leadership experience in cyber security matters. After completing numerous projects in risk management and cyber security governance with success, Giorgi was searching for the next country where he could take over and strengthen the resilience of cyberspace. And as Giorgi is interested in the overall political process not only in the Eastern Partnership, but also in the Western Balkans, North Macedonia was among his next targets.
As the upcoming parliamentary elections in North Macedonia are scheduled for Spring 2024, Giorgi, representing Cyber Trust, a consultancy company based in Tbilisi together with his host Marija Gjorgieva, who works at Global Cyber Alliance planned to engage with stakeholders in the elections and cybersecurity sectors in the country, aiming to explore potential cooperation for enhancing cybersecurity resilience in preparation for the upcoming elections.
Overall, Giorgi held eight productive meetings in Skopje facilitated by Marija contributing to the formulation of forthcoming project scopes. Particularly, Giorgi was engaged with the Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering (“FINKI”) at Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, analysing past cyber incidents related to North Macedonia’s elections and discussing ongoing cybersecurity efforts. As the faculty staff are engaged in providing cybersecurity to the Election process. Accordingly, he met them and discussed the current state and emerging threats.
In addition, he met with representatives from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) North Macedonia office. They deliver targeted assistance to election management bodies from the State Election Commission (SEC) down to regional and local commissions to professionalize election administration and thereby build confidence among voters. As a result of the meeting, we elaborated the idea – support the political parties with cybersecurity assessment of their infrastructure and cyber-hygiene training campaigns.
Also, Giorgi met the USAID Critical Infrastructure Digitalization and Resilience program representatives, who are about to finalize legal framework the National Cybersecurity Strategy, Dr. Metodi Hadji-Janev – representative of cybersecurity community to get a more comprehensive idea about the situation in the country. Furthermore, Giorgi managed to meet the Head of the Computer Emergency Response Team (MKD-CERT) about potential collaboration in cybersecurity assessments for the State Electoral Commission and post-election incident response.
Giorgi is excited about his experience: “In addition to facilitating improved networking, knowledge transfer, skill development, and strengthening alumni connections between the two distant regions, WEASA P2P meeting served as the initial phase towards a broader collaboration in cybersecurity field between our institutions for Marija, my host, and me.”