Switzerland’s strengths such as neutrality, legal certainty and political stability are also valid in the
cybersecurity sector. Its greatest asset lies in a high level of privacy protection and a low density of
regulations. Switzerland has a top-notch internet infrastructure in comparison to other countries. Its
reliable and cost-effective power supply ensures flawless operation of servers in data centers and security
operations centers (SOCs).
Furthermore, Switzerland provides a large pool of specialized engineers in cybersecurity, attracting top tech
giants to build their research hubs here.
At a glance
In its humanitarian tradition, Switzerland is making an important contribution to improving cybersecurity across
the world and to promoting a peaceful use of ICT (Information and communications technology). The country hosts
many organizations, such as the Internet Society, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), DiploFoundation, the
International Telecommunication Union (ITU), ICT4Peace, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), and the
WEF Cyber Security Center.
Research and development (R+D)
Switzerland’s expertise is defined by excellence in engineering, encryption and algorithms. The country has a strong
commercial base in the areas of security and encryption, with companies such as Kudelski, OneConsult, Infoguard, Omnisec,
Securosys and IDQuantique, a world leader in quantum cryptography. In addition, many companies in Switzerland offer
niche services in all important areas of cybersecurity with a strong hands-on approach.
As security concerns become increasingly important in hardware manufacturing, there is a growing demand for better
manufacturing processes that provide optimal device security. Swiss companies such as Securosys have built an international
reputation for the reliability, quality and end-to-end security of “Swiss Made” products and manufacturing methods.
The encryption for mobile phones is particularly good in Switzerland, since small companies, mainly spin-offs from
the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) or Lausanne (EPFL), offer cutting-edge technology.
The biggest cyber security segment in Switzerland is network security. In 2017, there were 1,106 patents from Switzerland
in this field; 151 of these were ranked as top impact patents. In the field of hardware security, patent numbers in
Switzerland have climbed from 61 to 847 since 2000.
Geneva is already a recognized center of excellence in the field of internet governance, with key organizations such as
the Internet Society, the ITU and the Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum. The city is home to more than 50% of
global internet activity.
ETHZ has one of the world’s top five cybersecurity teams at its disposal. The cross-sectoral Zurich Information Security
& Privacy Center (ZISC) was founded back in 2003 at ETHZ; it provides clear technical focus to develop solutions to the
growing challenges of information security together with industry and politics. The scientists at ETH-ZISC work on
next-generation networks, cyber-physical systems and cryptography.
The researcher Adrian Perrig is developing the new SCION internet architecture at ETH Zurich’s Institute of Information Security.
Among other things, this security architecture prevents unwanted redirects (via centralized control codes) and provides advanced
protection against cyberattacks. The Swiss National Bank SNB also has a pilot project with SCION.
The Idiap research institute in Martigny has made a name for itself internationally with its Swiss Research and Evaluation
Center for Biometric Security. Idiap was chosen as the only European partner in Google’s exclusive Abacus research project.
IARPA, the US intelligence department, has also partnered with Idiap for spoofing attacks.
Switzerland is responding to increased demand for experts with new chairs and programs. To this end, work is underway at the
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) to create two new continuing education courses in cybersecurity. The
Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts is offering a bachelor’s degree in information and cybersecurity from autumn
2018, and the professional association ICT-Berufsbildung Schweiz is planning a Federal Certificate in IT Security together
with business and the army.
Many Swiss regions, such as the Swiss Crypto Valley around the area of Zug, boast an innovative scene of startups that leverage
blockchain based technologies for secure data processing, from smart contracts to crypto currencies.
Costs and financing
In 2017, the first Swiss-based accelerator focusing exclusively on cybersecurity was launched in Geneva. The Rising Star
Accelerator offers potential startups from across Europe a 24-week training and networking program to prepare them for market
Framework conditions and market entry
The Swiss government also recognizes the growing importance of cybersecurity. On April 18, 2018, the Federal Council adopted
the newly developed “National strategy for the protection of Switzerland against cyber risks (NCS)” for the years 2018-2022.
The main components of the strategy are the development of skills and knowledge, the promotion of international cooperation
and the strengthening of incident and crisis management and cooperation in cyber prosecution, as well as cyber defense measures
by the army. The increased awareness drives demand for cybersecurity solutions and leads to an increased need for experts.
Since 2004, the Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Assurance (MELANI) has been providing information on cyber
security threats and policies to individuals, businesses and selected operators of critical national infrastructures. The
Swiss Federal Council has also been commissioned by Parliament to create a center of excellence for cybersecurity at national
Compared to the US, for example, Switzerland offers significantly greater legal protection for personal data. Due to the rapid
technological developments of recent years, an update of the Swiss Data Protection Act is underway. Swiss laws are also being
adjusted to data protection legislation at the European level (EU GDPR) to ensure equivalence of the data protection levels
between Switzerland and the EU.
The future of cybersecurity is strongly linked to developments in the fintech industry and vice versa. As a fintech location,
Switzerland already has a strong position on the world market, due to its historically established reputation as a secure and
stable financial center. The Swiss authorities are working proactively to make regulatory adjustments that will facilitate
market access for new business models.
The nationwide initiative digitalswitzerland has set itself the goal of making Switzerland a leading digital business location
for the cybersecurity industry, among others. Various measures are being implemented, which are supported by the government
as well as by large companies from the industry such as Google, UBS or Swisscom.
In June 2017, Federal Councilor Guy Parmelin, Minister of Defense, signed the Action Plan for Cyber Defense (APCD). This APCD
will greatly strengthen Switzerland’s defense mechanism in the fight against cyber threats. It will create 150 to 170 jobs by
2020. Cooperation between business, the authorities (military) and Swiss universities is a core content of the APCD.
Due to its political neutrality and its top position as a high-tech location, Switzerland is in an ideal starting location to
create new “digital trust”. For this reason, the EPFL announced the establishment of a “Center for Digital Trust” at the end
of 2017. Together with partners from politics and business, the center intends to become a platform of excellence in matters
of cybersecurity, data protection and privacy. In this framework, two new chairs were also founded at EPFL by 2018.
To counteract the global threat of cyberattacks, the World Economic Forum (WEF) announced in early 2018 that it would open a
global center for cybersecurity in Geneva with around 40 fulltime jobs. Headquartered in Switzerland, the new center is an
independent institution led by the WEF; it aims to help establish a secure global cyberspace and enhance collaboration between
individuals and governments worldwide. In addition, an association was created to help fintech companies and data aggregators
to improve their cybersecurity.