Norway has accelerated plans to scale up its national security infrastructure against threats emanating from the cyber domain.
In late January 2019, the Norwegian government released two documents highlighting its approach.
“This strategy is intended to address the challenges that will inevitably arise in conjunction with the rapid and far-reaching digitalisation of Norwegian society.”
Norway is one of the leading digital nations in the world. As politicians, we have a responsibility to ensure that we make the most of the resources invested in our society. We are encouragingboth the public and the private sector to participate in digital innovation, to improve efficiency,increase competitiveness and create new jobs.
The digitalisation of Norwegian society also represents a challenge. Digital infrastructure and systems are becoming increasingly complex, comprehensive and integrated. Dependencies and vulnerabilities are progressively emerging across areas of responsibility, sectors and nations, and it is generally expected that digital services should be accessible anywhere and all times. Successful digitalisation also includes making sure that the solutions provided appropriately accommodate demands for the security and privacy of the individual, and thateveryone can be confident that the digital services will function as they should.
The first national Norwegian cyber security strategy was introduced in 2003, making Norway one of the first countries in the world to have a national strategy in this particular area. In step with developments in the threat landscape, the national strategy was revised in 2007 and 2012.
The Committee on Digital Vulnerabilities in Society published its report on digital vulnerabilityin Norwegian society in 2015. As a part of the follow-up on the report, the first white paper to the Norwegian Parliament that focused exclusively on cyber security was prepared in 2017.The paper was entitled “Cyber security – a joint responsibility” – and with good reason, given that we all share an interest in, and a responsibility for, securing our digital assets. What was once atopic of interest to a select few has now become an issue that affects each and every one of us.
The present strategy is Norway’s fourth cyber security strategy, and is intended to addressthe challenges that will inevitably arise in conjunction with the rapid and far-reachingdigitalisation of Norwegian society. The developments in relation to previous nationalstrategies are based on the need to reinforce public-private, civilian-military and internationalcooperations. The primary target groups for the strategy are authorities and companies
in both public and private sectors, including the municipalities. Moreover, the strategy is to lay the foundations for ensuring private individuals have the necessary knowledge and understanding of risks in order to use technology in a safe and secure manner.
In preparing the strategy, we placed particular emphasis on applying an open and inclusiveprocess so as to involve stakeholders from the public and private sector alike. A strategyconference involving more than 300 delegates, written input and high participation in a range of workshops clearly indicates there is great interest in identifying shared solutions. I extendmy gratitude to everyone who has made a contribution during the strategy process.
The time has now come to make a start on the most important work – the follow-up. I hopethat you will take ownership of the new national cyber security strategy, put it on the agenda and help ensure its implementation. By responding to cyber security challenges appropriately,we can make the very most of the digitalisation of society and benefit from new opportunitiesfor us as individuals, as companies and as a society.
The second report identifies various measures being considered by the Norwegian government to implement the strategy.
The Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security (JD) and the Norwegian Ministry of Defence (FD) have overall responsibility for following up on the strategy. Each ministry must ensure that the strategy’s priorities and the list of measures are followed up in their own sector. In this regard, ministries must work closely with government agencies and sector stakeholders so that planned cyber security measures are coordinated with other ministries as necessary.
Each ministry should actively involve affected stakeholders in the private sector in the preparation of measures. Ministries must establish whether measures initiated in their own sector sufficiently contribute to achieving the goals from the strategy.
In connection with follow-up by the ministries, it is expected that the importance of cyber security is communicated to the government agencies. It would be beneficial to make this an integral part of the governing of subordinate agencies.
This list of measures is published separately and is to be revised as necessary. It is presumed that measures which affect the business community will be implemented
in close collaboration with the business community’s own bodies. It is presumed that measures which affect consumers will be implemented in collaboration with consumer organisations. Prior to implementing new measures, an evaluation of how the measure in question will affect privacy should always be conducted and, if necessary, privacy protection authorities should be involved in the planning and implementation.
To track the status in following up the strategy’s priorities, JD and FD will monitor the development in the area of cyber security by requesting status updates from ministries concerning their work to follow up on the strategy. Status reports will be collected approximately two years after the launch of the strategy.
Follow-up on the strategy will also be carried out by the use of an interministerial group, and through a public-private partnership forum. These groups will, for example, track development regarding security challenges and trends, and continuously determine whether this triggers a need to revise (fully or in part) the contents of the national strategy and, correspondingly, the list of measures.list-of-measures--national-cyber-security-strategy-for-norway
The photo shows the new Norwegian government as of January 2019.
Never before has Norway had a government with more ministers (22) or more parties (four) involved. Prime Minister Erna Solberg has, however made some clearly strategic moves in forming the country’s first non-socialist majority government since 1985, with an eye to winning re-election once again in 2021.
Solberg also clearly hopes to put months of political turmoil and even non-socialist challenges to her power behind her. Her Conservative Party-led coalition survived as a minority government since she first won the prime minister’s seat in 2013, and then won re-election with the Progress Party in 2017, but without the support agreement they’d had with the Christian Democrats and the Liberal parties.
The Liberals ended up joining her in government last January, but Solberg’s then-three-party coalition still held only a minority of seats in Parliament. Now her expanded coalition includes the Christian Democrats as well, and a majority of seats based on results of the last election. As long as all four parties hold together, they’re assured of getting the legislation they want through Parliament.
They face a tough and resurgent opposition, however, with the Labour, Socialist Left and Center parties now doing well in public opinion polls. Solberg’s choices in forming her new expanded coalition, however, seem specifically aimed at tackling their strongest criticism and opposition.
For one thing, two of the Progress Party’s most outspoken and controversial ministers are now gone: Per Sandberg lost his cabinet postover his highly questionable summer holiday in Iran and careless use of his mobile phone in both Iran and China. Sylvi Listhaug, who succeeded Sandberg as deputy leader of the Progress Party, played a key role in negotiating the Solberg govenment’s new platform but did not, perhaps pointedly, make a comeback as a minister. She had to resign as justice minister last spring after offending far too many in a highly disputable Facebook post.
That made it much more palatable for the Christian Democrats, by an albeit slim majority, to agree to join Solberg’s government despite campaign promises that they would never share government power with the Progress Party. With most of Progress’ toughest right-wingers (by Norwegian standards) out of the government, the Christian Democrats saw some potential.
Of all the challenges faced by Solberg in Parliament recently, her government’s alleged failure to follow up on anti-terror- and security improvements posed the biggest threat. She survived a potential no-confidence vote last fall, and has now tackled the security and preparedness issue by creating a ministerial post to specifically address it. The new post of “Public Security Minister,” moreover, was handed to Ingvil Smines Tybring-Gjedde of the Progress Party, a former state secretary in Solberg’s office and wife of one of Progress’ most outspoken and critical Members of Parliament, Christian Tybring-Gjedde.
Tybring-Gjedde’s appointment was the biggest surprise on Tuesday, when Solberg presented her new 22-member government after an extraordinary Council of State with King Harald at the Royal Palace. The appointment may dampen her husband’s regular criticism of the government in which his own party serves, while also helping Solberg actually achieve the security improvements needed before the next election. The Tybring-Gjeddes’ daughter Mathilde, meanwhile, is currently serving as a Member of Parliament for Solberg’s Conservative Party, not her parents’ Progress Party.
Solberg also needed to make sure that her newest partner in government, the Christian Democrats, got some cabinet posts in areas most important to it. She replaced the Progress Party’s Bård Hoksrud as agriculture minister with Olaug Bollestad, acting leader of the Christian Democrats who long have championed farmers and rural interests. That poses a direct challenge to the opposition Center Party, since the Christian Democrats often side with Center on maintaining protectionist policies, farm subsidies and taxpayer funding for outlying district development in general.
Bollestad is expected to carry out the same sorts of policies Center would, perhaps leaving Center with fewer things to compain about. Norway’s largest farm lobby, Norges Bondelaget, was quick to issue a statement on Tuesday claiming that it expects “good cooperation” with Bollestad as the new minister in charge of agriculture and food production. Progress Party leader Siv Jensen, who remains in her position as finance minister, claimed she was “very satisfied” after her more market-liberal party held control of the agriculture ministry since 2013, and claimed it was not a loss to now hand it over to the Christian Democrats.
While Solberg’s expanded government has more ministers than ever before, the actual number of ministries stayed at 15, with six of them now containing two ministers. Solberg fended off criticism that instead of slimming down state government, she had expanded it, stressing that there are no more ministries than before.
She also shifted around some of her own Conservative ministers, moving the up-and-coming Nicolai Astrup from the foreign ministry as minister in charge of foreign aid and development, to a new post as a minister in the ministry for local governments in charge of digitalization. He’ll be succeeded by former Bergen city politician Dag Inge Ulstein of the Christian Democrats, not least since foreign aid is another key issue for the Christian Democrats.
Solberg also felt compelled to replace Linda Hofstad Helleland as minister in charge of family and children’s issues, in order to appease the Christian Democrats and give that responsibility to their deputy leader Kjell Ingolf Ropstad. He led the revolt against former Christian Democrats’ leader Knut Arild Hareide’s desire to support the left-center side of Norwegian politics instead of the conservative side.
Ropstad, however, won’t need to march in Norway’s annual gay pride parades, with Solberg transferring equality issues over the Ministry of Culture, under the leadership of the Liberals’ Trine Skei Grande. The Liberals’ otherwise will maintain control over ministries important to them, including culture, equality, the environment and climate and higher education.
Solberg’s new government also sets a new record as being led by four women – herself, Progress Party leader Jensen, Liberal Party leader Grande and the Christian Democrats’ acting leader Bollestad. That’s always important in Norway, which has promoted gender equality for decades.
Solberg’s Conservatives retain control of the most, and arguably the most important, ministries, including the Office of the Prime Minister, the foreign, defense, health, education, labour, local governments, trade and, now, digitalization ministries. The Progress Party will politially control seven ministries, including finance, oil and energy, fisheries, justice and immigration, transport, elder care and public health and, now, public security. The Liberals and Christian Democrats will have political control over three ministries each: Culture, environment and higher education for the Liberals, and agriculture, family and foreign aid for the Christian Democrats.
“The goal is to create a sustainable society,” Solberg said at her expanded government’s press conference Tuesday afternoon. She thanked the two ministers who needed to leave her government (Helleland and Hoksrud) to make room for the Christian Democrats, and welcomed her new ministers.
“We have some intense weeks behind us,” Solberg admitted, in referring to the drama and conflicts that surrounded government negotiations. Now, she said, she thinks Norway “will become an even better country.” The opposition is already gearing up for more battles, however, with some commentators saying they’re now likely to zero in on the controversial change in abortion law (initiated by the Christian Democrats) and the Solberg government’s reluctance to force more emissions cuts and seemingly leave Norway’s oil industry able to keep drilling and producing.