Tuesday, October 19: Cybersecurity

Arena for Journalism in Europe in cooperation with:

On the first day of the seminar, we zoom in on cybersecurity. A  international journalistic investigation has brought to light the threat to democracy posed by spying attacks as one recent example.

Video stream

10:00 – 11:15:  Global democracy under cyber attack – the Pegasus Project

Hungarian journalists critical to the government as well as the president of France allegedly had their phones infected with the spying software Pegasus. This was unveiled in the summer of 2021 by more than 80 reporters from 17 media organizations in 10 countries, coordinated by Forbidden Stories with the technical support of Amnesty International’s Security Lab. They sifted through leaked records of phone numbers and were able to take an unprecedented  peek behind the curtain of this surveillance weapon.

In this session we’ll hear how the Pegasus team investigated the surveillance data and what the infection with the spying software means to one of the victim journalists.

Moderation: Brigitte Alfter, director of Arena for Journalism in Europe


  • Sandrine Rigaud, Forbidden Stories, coordinator
  • Szabolcs Panyi, Direkt 36, journalist who was a victim to the surveillance, when his phone was compromised for 7 months

In the second part of the seminar, academic experts and journalists will dive deeper into the cybersecurity threats and strategies in Europe.

11:30 – 13:00: EU’s cybersecurity strategies

In December 2020, the European Union has released its cybersecurity strategy. A Europe-wide approach to tackling cybersecurity and protecting critical infrastructure is important, yet critics point to the lack of focus on other structures of the democratic societies. The cybersecurity of political parties and organisations, as well as of investigative journalists, is a matter of public concern: An increased cybersecurity for these crucial actors in democracies should be part of a broader strategy, they argue.

Moderation: Łukasz Krol, digital security trainer at Internews. Previously, he worked at the College of Europe in Natolin, discussing digital affairs with students.


  • Sebastian Pape, private lecturer and postdoctoral researcher at Goethe University Frankfurt and founder of the Social Engineering Academy GmbH, a startup offering trainings and serious games.
  • Laurens Cerulus, cybersecurity, data and telecom policy reporter at Politico
  • Carola Frediani, journalist covering surveillance and privacy. Currently she is a cybersecurity engagement manager at Amnesty International. She writes an infosec newsletter.

Program for Wednesday Oct. 20: When data hurt the vulnerable

Program for Thursday October 21: The power of Big Tech

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This session EU’s cybersecurity strategies is produced within the project DJAS, supported in part by a grant from the Foundation Open Society Institute in cooperation with the OSIFE of the Open Society Foundations. The contents of this event are the sole responsibility of OBC Transeuropa.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 765140.