CICERO: Response to the Increase in Cyberattacks

In recent weeks, a series of cyberattacks have been carried out against several prominent Spanish entities. The goal has been to steal data from millions of users. These attacks have highlighted the urgent need to improve our cyber defenses.

The volume of these crimes has increased significantly since 2016. According to the National Cybersecurity Institute (INCIBE), it managed over 118,000 cybersecurity incidents in 2022, a

Given this situation, the need for initiatives and projects to strengthen cybersecurity at national and international levels is evident. In this context, CICERO was born, an initiative aiming to launch a strategic R&D&I program in cybersecurity, focused on transfer and complemented by the generation and attraction of research talent. CICERO is the first Cervera Network of Excellence oriented towards cybersecurity.

The CICERO Initiative: Reducing Risks and Vulnerabilities

In the Cervera Network CICERO, our organization collaborates with the technological centers: CEIT, FIDESOL, i2CAT, and ITCL. The main objective of CICERO is to develop robust information processing systems to identify and reduce system and network vulnerabilities. This is based on the application of signal and data security technologies, as well as the development of network virtualization and software-defined networking technologies.

Additionally, CICERO aims to develop functional prototypes of technological innovations ready to be adopted by companies, launch several lighthouse projects with companies focused on specific areas of cybersecurity, seek innovative solutions to identified challenges, and organize training programs in cybersecurity technologies aimed at researchers and technicians in the group.

Four Major Challenges for the CICERO Group

Identification Challenges

In this challenge, the Cervera Network CICERO aims to help organizations understand the threats and vulnerabilities they face and improve risk management with this information. Key to this will be the research and development of technologies such as honeypots, vulnerability identification, and risk analysis methodologies.

Protection Challenges

CICERO aims to improve the robustness of information systems and data networks against cyberattacks. To this end, it will promote research into technologies that enhance security in network protocols, cyber-physical systems, and access control. Additionally, it will ensure protection in new data network paradigms, such as network function virtualization.

Detection Challenges

This Cervera Network will investigate technologies that allow the detection of suspicious events in increasingly complex systems and data networks. Technologies based on massive information processing, its correlation, and statistical analysis are essential to ensure adequate event detection.

Response and Recovery Challenges

Another challenge for CICERO is to research orchestration and rapid reconfiguration technologies for data networks to isolate and contain compromised systems, as well as forensic analysis to determine the impact of cybersecurity incidents.

Beyond Technical Challenges

In addition to these four technical activities, CICERO includes two transversal activities:

Strengthening Research Capabilities

This activity will focus on enhancing current skills through specialized training at the national level and implementing measures to make research careers attractive in research centers. The goal is to attract both national and international talent. A network of cybersecurity laboratories will also be established to aid in training and talent acquisition.

Technology Transfer and Internationalization

This activity will include actions aimed at promoting technology and knowledge transfer (through lighthouse projects), disseminating results, and positioning the network as a reference in security.

Gradiant, Cervera Center of Excellence

The purpose of the Cervera program is to strengthen technological centers that develop applied research in Spain and their leading role in the Spanish Science, Technology, and Innovation System. Specifically, it strengthens these centers’ capabilities in strategic technologies through networking and fosters their ability to collaborate with various agents, especially companies. Gradiant has been part of other Cervera Networks of Excellence, such as Égida, the first focused on privacy and security. In CICERO, the focus is on cybersecurity to address the growing social and economic need for protection against cybercrime.

Project (CER-20231019) recognized as a CERVERA Network of Excellence, funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation through the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI), charged to the General State Budget 2023 and the Recovery, Transformation, and Resilience Plan.