Today’s headlines often feature the word ‘cyber’, reporting on threats related to the virtual world: online frauds, stolen credit cards, online child abuse and ‘the dark web’, ransomware, computer hacks and viruses, botnets and denial-of-service attacks on corporate and government servers, cyberespionage, and cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure including hospitals and power supply networks.
What are the real cybersecurity threats – and risks? What has changed during COVID-19? What are the major policy and regulatory challenges? What is the role of diplomacy, international legal instruments, and regional and national policies in addressing these threats, and how efficient are they? How does international co-operation in cybersecurity work, and what are the roles of the various stakeholders?
This 10-week online advanced course in Cybersecurity covers technological and geopolitical risks, policy challenges, actors, and initiatives related to cybersecurity, especially those related to cybercrime, violence, child protection, the security of core infrastructure, and cyberwarfare. It also covers a broader context: the relations of cybersecurity with economic development and human rights.
This course can be taken as part of the Advanced Diploma in Internet Governance.
What will you learn?
- How to identify the defining features of cybersecurity and the factors which shape international issues
- How to identify principal technological and social threats to cybersecurity; describe and analyse key cybersecurity issues for users, companies, institutions, and states
- To understand and analyse online risks for children and ways to mitigate them
- How to identify challenges related to online terrorism and violent extremism, as well as the emerging global intiatives to combat them
- How to explain the emerging cybercrime environment and its impacts, and the challenges of investigation, and national and international co-operation
- To understand the threats to critical infrastructure and core internet resources
- How to explain risks from cyber conflict, the challenges of applying international law to cyberspace, and ongoing diplomatic and political deliberations
- To understand and assess the challenges involved in the social aspects of cybersecurity, in particular the interplay between commercial and developmental aspects, and online freedoms and privacy
- How to explain and analyse national and international policy frameworks and instruments
How will you learn?
In this course you will interact intensively in discussions with classmates and lecturers from around the world. You will receive guidance and personalised feedback on your classwork from the course team.
How long will you learn?
The course lasts for 10 weeks:
- 1 week of course introduction and orientation to online learning
- 8 weeks of addressing the course topics one by one (see below for more details)
- 1 week for the final assignment and completing pending tasks
Who should apply
Diplo seeks applications from the following, from both developed and developing countries:
- Officials in government ministries, departments, judicial or regulatory institutions dealing with security and/or ICT-related policy issues (e.g. security and defence, foreign affairs, justice, telecommunications);
- Experts and officials in intergovernmental, international and regional organisations in charge of security cooperation, justice and home affairs, defence or internet and ICT policy;
- Academics, researchers and postgraduate students in the field of security and/or internet;
- Professionals from the corporate sector in charge of internet and security policies;
- Journalists and staff of non-governmental organisations, covering issues of internet rights and security.
This course may also be of interest to:
- Practising diplomats, civil servants, and others working in international relations who want to refresh or expand their knowledge on the subject, under the guidance of experienced practitioners and academics.
- Postgraduate students of diplomacy or international relations wishing to study topics not offered through their university programmes or diplomatic academies and to gain deeper insight through interaction with practising diplomats.
The course consists of 8 modules:
- Introduction to cybersecurity discusses the historical development of cybersecurity, and global and geostrategic challenges. The module distinguishes between the commonly narrow understanding of cybersecurity as only relating to cyber-threats and the broader notion which includes information security and security aspects of the global race for technological dominance. It also looks at the mapping of targets and the motives behind cyber-attacks such as hactivism, crime, espionage, terrorism, and warfare. Optionally, the module allows participants to better understand the technology behind the internet, and the basics of multilateral diplomacy.
- Cybersecurity risks focuses on the vulnerabilities of cyberspace as well as emerging threat actors, procedures, and tools. The module particularly reviews key vulnerabilities and common cybersecurity threats to individuals and institutions such as malware, botnets, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), phishing, e-scams, and identity theft.
- Cybercrime defines and classifies cybercrime and analyses its economic and social impact, taking into account emerging technological and societal trends. The module also focuses on combating cybercrime, including existing legal frameworks and negotiations at the global and regional levels (such as the Council of Europe ‘Budapest Convention’, and the UN open-ended intergovernmental expert committee), international co-operation frameworks and various law enforcement approaches, computer investigation, and digital forensics.
- Violence and child protection provides a look at the ways terrorists abuse cyberspace, and the challenges of violent extremism and possible counteracts (such as the ‘Christchurch Call”). It covers the topic of child safety, including cyber-bullying, abuse, and sexual exploitation, and discusses ways to address these challenges through policy, education, and technology.
- Critical infrastructure and resources looks at the security and protection of critical infrastructure, including the internet infrastructure, water supply facilities, transport, industrial facilities, and power plants. It concludes with the expected challenges of future networks: the Internet of things (IoT) and ‘smart networks’. It further explains how the critical components of the internet work, and discusses the political dimension of global security – the control over the domain name system (DNS) through IANA functions – and technical DNS vulnerabilities.
- Cyber conflicts and international security looks at cyber conflicts, including the main risks for conducting warfare by cyber means. It then reviews challenges of the applicability of international law to cyberspace, as well as ongoing diplomatic efforts to define norms and confidence-building measures related to state behaviour in cyberspace (in particular the UN group of governmental experts and the open-ended working group, but also the efforts of regional organisations like OSCE, OAS and ARF, and multistakeholder processes like the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace).
- Cybersecurity policy frameworks analyses national cybersecurity mechanisms, starting with examples of national cybersecurity strategies, followed by a close look at the importance, role, and structure of national computer emergency response teams (CERTs) and computer security incident response teams (CSIRTs). The module also looks at the importance of public-private partnerships, developing national competences and awareness, and international co-operation through multilateral and multistakeholder forums.
- Broader context of cybersecurity correlates cybersecurity and other social and political issues related to digital policies and internet governance. The module looks at the connection between privacy and security, with particular reflection on social media challenges, issues of openness and online freedoms, and objectionable and harmful content. It then briefly covers ethics and gender issues, and concludes with discussing economic aspects and building trust in e-commerce.
Related: This course complements a shorter Cybersecurity Diplomacy course, which focuses in depth on the risks of cyber-conflict and the related international negotiations.
Director of Cybersecurity and E-diplomacy
Associate Fellow, Geneva Centre for Security Policy
Former Indian Ambassador
Managing Director at Deutor Cyber Security Solutions Switzerland GmbH
Director of Digital Policy
Assistant Professor in cybersecurity governance, Institute of Security and Global Affairs, Leiden University
ICT and Digital Economy Strategist; Director, Trinidad and Tobago Multistakeholder Advisory Group
Coordinator - Internet Governance and E-diplomacy
The Cybersecurity online course is based on a collaborative learning approach, involving a high level of interaction over a period of 10 weeks. Reading materials and the necessary tools for online interaction are provided in a virtual classroom.
Each week, participants study and discuss course materials and complete additional online activities. At the end of the week, participants and lecturers meet to discuss the topic of the week. For successful completion, this course requires a minimum of 5 to 7 hours of study time per week.
Participants who successfully complete a certificate course receive a certificate issued by Diplo which can be printed or shared electronically via a permanent link. Participants who successfully complete an accredited course will receive 9 ECTS credits from the University of Malta.
All course applicants must have regular internet access; dial-up connections are sufficient, but broadband is preferable.
Applicants for certificate courses must have:
- An undergraduate university degree OR 3 years of work experience and appropriate professional qualifications in diplomacy or international relations
- Sufficient English language skills to undertake postgraduate-level studies
Applicants for accredited courses must meet the University of Malta prerequisites:
- Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject with at least Second Class Honours
- Proof of English language proficiency obtained within the last 2 years (minimum requirements: TOEFL paper-based – 650; TOEFL internet-based – 95; IELTS – 6.5.; Cambridge – Proficiency Certificate with Grade C or better). If when applying you are still waiting for your English language proficiency results, the University may issue a conditional letter of acceptance.
Fees and scholarships
Course fees depend on whether you wish to obtain university credit for the course or a Diplo certificate:
- University of Malta accredited courses: €850
- Diplo certificate courses: €690
Throughout 2022, Diplo alumni members are entitled to a special 20% tuition discount in celebration of Diplo’s 20th anniversary.
Discounts are available for more than one participant from the same institution.
You can apply for this course as:
- A certificate course, in order to obtain a certificate issued by Diplo
- An accredited course, to obtain 9 ECTS credits from the University of Malta
- As part of the Master/Postgraduate Diploma in Contemporary Diplomacy
- As a part of the Advanced Diploma in Internet Governance programme
A limited scholarship fund is available for diplomats and others working in international relations from developing countries, through support from the governments of Malta and Switzerland.
A limited scholarship fund is also available for civil society applicants working in the field of digital policy, through the general support of the Ford Foundation.
As Diplo's ability to offer scholarship support is limited, candidates are strongly encouraged to seek scholarship funding directly from local or international institutions.
Apply for a certificate course
Applying for financial assistance? Please indicate this on the application form, upload your CV, and a motivation statement that should include:
- Details of your relevant professional and educational background
- Reasons for your interest in the course
- Why do you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course? How will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country?
Please note that financial assistance from Diplo is available only to applicants from developing countries!
Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available in the course.
Complete application packages must be received by specified application deadlines in order to be considered.
- Two copies of the University of Malta application form filled out in full
- Certified copies of original degree(s) and official transcripts
- English translations of degree(s) and transcripts if they are not in English, signed and stamped by a translator
- English language proficiency certificate obtained within the last two years (minimum requirements TOEFL paper-based – 650; TOEFL internet-based – 95. IELTS – 6.5.; Cambridge – Proficiency Certificate with Grade C or better). Please indicate on the application form if you are still waiting for your English language proficiency results
- Photocopy of personal details pages of your passport
- If you are requesting financial assistance, please include your CV and a motivation letter with your application. The motivation letter should include details of your relevant professional and educational background; reasons for your interest in the course; and why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course (i.e. how will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country). Financial assistance from DiploFoundation is available only to applicants from developing countries.
- Application fee or proof of payment (€100, non-refundable – see methods of payment).
Please send the complete application package by email to email@example.com or by post to:
Anutruf, Ground Floor
Msida, MSD 1675, Malta
Diplo reserves the right to cancel this course if enrolment is insufficient. In case of cancellation, Diplo will notify applicants shortly after the application deadline. Applicants who have paid an application fee may apply this fee towards another course or receive a refund.