TF-CSIRT at 20: an Interview with Baiba Kaskina
TF-CSIRT is turning 20! And who is best to tell the story than those who lived it? To mark this special occasion, we have reached out to some of the most notable members of the community, who have contributed to TF-CSIRT as we know it today and asked them to share their memories and visions for the future.
About Baiba Kaskina:
TF-CSIRT Chair: 2014-2019
First TF-CSIRT meeting: Warsaw, 2003
Favourite TF-CSIRT location: Cyprus (closely followed by Malaga and Tallinn)
Many of you know Baiba Kaskina, the General Manager of CERT.LV and former chair of TF-CSIRT. However, perhaps a lesser known fact is that Baiba joined the community not as a member, but as a TF-CSIRT Secretary back in 2003, when she worked for what was then known as TERENA (now GÉANT).
“The Incident Response community is special as it is truly a place where you collaborate and do not compete” acknowledges Baiba Kaskina.
“At that moment I knew very little about CSIRTs in general,” remembers Baiba. “The first meeting was in Warsaw, May 2003, where I met those people that participated, I would recall 50 people maybe at that time, all new faces and I had to take minutes. I had to remember who is who, I had to understand what they were all talking about… At that time it was very stressful for me”.
But the community stepped up and made Baiba feel welcome: “There were a lot of people who were very eager to help me understand what this is all about, what has been discussed before, so it was not difficult at the end to become secretary of the task force and then also later a member of the community”.
Three years later, Baiba moved back to Latvia with a goal to start the first CSIRT team there, now known as CERT.LV, which first joined TF-CSIRT as a listed team and in 2016 reached the highest level of maturity – certification. And for her outstanding professional achievements, last year Baiba was awarded The Order of Three Stars, the highest state honours, presented by the President of Latvia.
Baiba started chairing the TF-CSIRT in September 2014, after being elected at the meeting in Rome. “The fellow members of the Steering Committee offered me a possibility to become the chair which I accepted and the community was also very supportive”, says Baiba. “Honestly, I thought I’ll try and if it goes very badly then maybe somebody else will take over, but it went quite well and my term was prolonged”. During 5 years, Baiba chaired 15 TF-CSIRT meetings and was one of the leading forces behind the TF-CSIRT strategy, created for the first time in 2017.
Looking into the future, Baiba wishes that the community would stay together and would not lose what has been achieved in these 20 years, especially taking the current challenges into consideration. Firstly, the recent global processes led to a lack of face to face meetings and informal communications. Secondly, the work of the TF-CSIRT Futures working group has not been finished and the decisions are yet to be made. But Baiba is positive: “I really hope these decisions will be favourable for the community and will allow us to keep the spirit of the community as it is now. I hope we will continue the TF-CSIRT mission of working together for better cyber space for many years to come”.