President of Costa Rica H.E. Rodrigo Chaves Robles and the country’s Minister of Science, Innovation, Technology, and Telecommunications Paula Bogantes Zamora visited with representatives from the Center for Cybersecurity Policy & Law for a conversation on cybersecurity and digital leadership.

The discussion centered around Costa Rica’s progress on cybersecurity in recent years and on the crucial role the country will play in global cybersecurity policy making in the future. At the event, Costa Rica also announced that it will host the LATAM CISO Summit in September 2024.

Session 1. The strategic role of digital security for socio-economic development

  • Paula Bogantes Zamora, Minister of Science, Innovation, Technology, and Telecommunications of Costa Rica
  • Brett DeWitt, Vice President of Global Cyber & Technology Policy at Mastercard

Costa Rica views universal access to technology and digital services as a key component of its digital transformation campaign. Minister Zamora explained that Costa Rica is improving its digital education so that all citizens — particularly the young and elderly — can confidently access digital services. The country is also working to ensure that buildout of 5G and fiber optics infrastructure provides rural populations with reliable access to the Internet. Minister Zamora stressed that this access must come at an affordable cost for all citizens. In the future, she hopes people will come to view the Internet as an essential utility like water and electricity are viewed today.

To accomplish its cybersecurity and digital transformation goals, Costa Rica will need to collaborate with the international community. Minister Zamora reiterated her thanks for the United States’ $25 million cybersecurity support package and the U.S. Southern Command’s $9.8 million security assistance initiative, which aims to establish a Cyber-Security Operations Center in Costa Rica by 2026.

Beyond these commitments, she recognized the support Costa Rica has received from Spain and from private companies like Microsoft. In her view, these engagements enable Costa Rica to harness the expertise of foreign governments and industry instead of “reinventing the wheel” on cybersecurity policy.

Session 2. Charting the future of cyber and digital leadership

  • H.E. Rodrigo Chaves Robles, President of Costa Rica
  • Grant Schneider, Senior Director of Cybersecurity Services at Venable LLP

While the proliferation of digital technology has increased economic prosperity in Costa Rica and around the world, it has also made entire economies vulnerable to cyberattacks. For this reason, President Chaves sees cybersecurity as a key component of 21st century policymaking. An effective national cybersecurity strategy is also critical to protecting economic growth, public health, and social stability.

“I have 25 million reasons to be grateful,” said President Chaves in discussing the United States’ cybersecurity assistance to Costa Rica. He stressed that the greatest benefit of the partnership is the technical and policy expertise that U.S. government agencies and industry provides. He also credited Minister Zamora and her team for their hard work collaborating with the U.S. and advancing Costa Rica’s cybersecurity strategy.

President Chaves identified what he called the “luddite challenge” as a key issue for Costa Rica moving forward. He argued that, despite providing myriad benefits, the digital transformation will inevitably leave behind certain cadres of society. As a result, his government and others have a special responsibility to develop human capital — including investing in educational programs — so their citizens are included in the economy.

President Chaves also discussed the challenges that government authorities and regulators will face as bad actors become increasingly advanced. To combat the burdens associated with strict public oversight and a lack of resources, he urges governments to further develop rapid response capacities in relation to cybersecurity incidents.

President Chaves closed his remarks by saying, now that we know why cybersecurity is important, we need to create deadlines that focus on the “how,” “when,” and “where” of implementing solutions.

Watch the full event HERE

Luke O'Grady

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