The crisis is spreading over the CERT Polska team, one of the three most important institutions dealing with digital security in the country. As indicated by the employees of this institution, their boss Przemysław Jaroszewski was forced to leave due to political pressure. They wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and do not rule out that they will also leave.
CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) Poland is the oldest national cyberspace incident response team. The task of the experts working here is to cooperate with the police and other services, but also with private companies in the case of the most serious hacker attacks. CERT also collaborates with similar teams around the world.
Przemysław Jaroszewski has managed the work of several dozen experts over the last five years. He has been with CERT Polska for over 20 years.
– Recently, he was summoned to minister Janusz Cieszyński, who supervises digitization. He told Jaroszewski that he must leave, because this is the decision of the more important in the party and the government, sources in the Prime Minister’s office and the Ministry of Interior and Administration say to tvn24.pl.
Jaroszewski himself refused to talk to us about the backstage of his departure. However, they are not a secret for CERT employees. They are also discussed in the small world of cybersecurity experts, which include digitization officials, secret service officers dealing with this matter, and policemen.
It is about the reasons why Przemysław Jaroszewski – who enjoys an authority in the environment – will no longer work for the state. These reasons are the comments he shared on his closed Facebook profile.
According to our sources, the critical comments posted by Jaroszewski were transferred to one of the ministers and leading politicians of the Law and Justice party.
– They were balanced, pointing rather to the problems the state is struggling with. Oh, a critique of stupid steps. I have never seen any indecent things there that cross the boundaries of culture. Certainly, there was never anything that directly related to the area of his work – a friend of Jaroszewski describes us.
– Minister Cieszyński was ordered to throw Przemek out. He did, though he wasn’t smiling. He managed to find out that Jaroszewski and his team could do well. And there have been many challenges regarding cybersecurity recently – says tvn24.pl, an official at the prime minister’s office.
Minister Cieszyński himself reacted after the first industry portal, trustanatrzeciastrona.pl, announced the story behind the sudden departure.
“Since 2018 I have been working in managerial positions in state institutions. I am not interested in the views of my employees, I judge people in expert positions only on the basis of their professionalism and commitment. (…) The details of the interview will remain between us. The only thing I can say is that we agreed as to the fact that in this situation the best solution is for Mr. Przemysław Jaroszewski to resign from his function, “the minister wrote in his statement.
Letter to the Prime Minister
On Tuesday, almost all CERT Polska employees signed an open letter to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. The letter was posted on the institution’s official website and on its Facebook profile.
“Private political views should not and must not be a reason for putting pressure on employees and forcing them to leave their jobs. As employees of CERT Polska, we express our full confidence in Przemysław Jaroszewski. Working in this team for over 20 years and being its manager for the last five years, he had a key contribution to its development and the construction of the national cybersecurity system and our role in it. (…) In our opinion, the current situation threatens to maintain the high efficiency of the work performed by CERT Polska, and consequently leads to a lower level of cybersecurity in our country “- reads an excerpt from the letter. It ends with an appeal to Prime Minister Morawiecki for “constructive dialogue”.
Our interlocutors have no doubts that CERT Polska has found itself at a critical moment in its history. It was similar in 2016, when the United Right took power and Anna Streżyńska became the minister. The then boss also left then, followed by several employees.
– Przemek, however, managed to detain most of the people. Now I’m afraid the whole team may break up – we heard.
The boss, who left then, found a better-paid job in one of the world’s IT corporations a few days later, and the others did the same. It is very likely that the same will happen if similar departures occur now.
CERT Polska, which operates at the NASK research institute, is one of the three CERTs operating at the national level in Poland.
The second – CERT GOV- is based in the forests near Warsaw and operates at the Internal Security Agency. Another one operates within the Ministry of National Defense. Everyone has a different specialization.
– Blue and red teams, for example, work in GOV. The former deal with the protection of the state’s critical infrastructure, the latter are trained in attacks on IT infrastructure. It is similar in the army – our interlocutors from the services explain to us.
Both CERTs were created during the rule of the PO-PSL coalition, and the inspiration for their creation and development was General Krzysztof Bondaryk, who headed the Internal Security Agency. At that time, CERT Polska, which specializes in the protection of the civil part of the Internet, also grew considerably, and it came under the wings of NASK (Scientific and Academic Computer Network), which functions as a research institute.
From 2017, NASK has no real independence from the minister supervising it. The act amended at that time allowed ministers to appoint or dismiss the heads of 17 state research institutes operating in the country at almost any discretion.
Therefore, also in the event of the CERT manager Przemysław Jaroszewski being forced to quit his job, the NASK director Wojciech Pawlak had nothing to say.
Main photo source: Jakub Kamiński / PAP