She who fosters Russia – USA collaboration in cyber space

In this “Secure in Mind” podcast episode, we welcome Ms. Maria Smekalova, Project Director at the RIAC think tank in Moscow, who discussed with us the current state of affairs in cyber space at the global level from a peculiar perspective

02 Ott 2019

Maria is a PhD candidate and Project Leader at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), a think tank based in Moscow committed to raise awareness and stimulate the debate on all matters cyber security, cyber culture and international affairs at the global level.

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The project coordinated by Maria looks at Information Security and Cooperation in Cyber Space between two historically opponent super-powers: Russia and USA. If we add to this that the project’s kick-off coincided with the 2016 Russiagate, we can easily get Maria’s brave and strong leadership.

The “Russia Trend”, cyber hygiene and cyber education

Maria shared with us some of the key principles to follow in order to overcome the numerous preconceived ideas in cyber nowadays, namely cyber education and cyber hygiene.

Particularly interesting was exploring Maria’s opinion on the so-called “Russia trend”, which puts her country at the center of a true media hype for any kind of bad news, especially when referring to the cyber sphere. Education, curiosity, information and awareness of the fingerprints we leave online are the weapons we can rely on to fight national biases and positively rebrand a country.

I really enjoyed this well-balanced conversation with Maria, a person coming from a think tank who understands and appreciates the complexities concerning a country as a whole and its distinct layers of state, including military, policing and civil society as well as macro trends. Although a think tank perspective often tends to be as objective as possible, and considering the think tank as a positive yet new and emerging phenomenon in Russia, it was an interesting conversation to uncover some of the most tangled and multi-faceted cyber issues from the other side of spectrum.

The Secure in Mind Project

Our mission is to greatly increase and encourage community discussion about technological and ethical issues that have done, are and will impact society on a global scale.

There is a longstanding and distinct disconnect between the way information is packaged and presented to the public and the effectiveness of this presentation in terms of generating informed, considered debate.

If we can take complex, important topics and present them, as best we can, in a manner that can interests people from outside the speciality, then we have surpassed our expectations.

Nick Kelly Bio

Nick is someone who, in many senses, is just like you: a human being trying to make sense of this existence of ours as we hurtle around a ball of gas in a sea of infinite eternity. More relevant though are his vacillations in the world amongst diverse countries and environments, collaborating, negotiating, elaborating and celebrating with fascinating people from all walks of life including politics, technology, activism, military and intelligence the world over.

He brings this unique breadth of perspective to the table and has a dogged interest in pursuing the human story behind the title or policy, appreciating the fact that underneath all of our bravado, political correctness and dichotomous states of creation and destruction, we are, after all, merely mortals trying to make the best of it.


The production cost of this episode of ‘Secure in Mind’ was supported by aizoOn Technology Consulting.

aizoOn is a global technology consulting company focused on innovation. Since the digital economy requires new visions, technologies and organisational models, we have taken the eco-system approach. Through this attitude, innovation happens through a co-creation process involving government agencies, individuals, public and private entities.

What this boils down to is that we use data and brains to drastically increase efficiencies, reduce waste, consolidate technology security and cyber postures and train the next generation of the top tech force.