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28th May 2017

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Kroes demands internet security strategy

  • The European Commission will present a comprehensive EU internet strategy this year (Photo: UK Ministry of Defence)

EU Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes Tuesday (24 April) reiterated her call for an EU-wide internet security strategy, arguing that EU authorities have not done enough to establish defence mechanisms to prevent cyber attacks.

"While online attacks could pose significant risk to critical systems, so far we have not done enough to protect ourselves", she said.

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Speaking by video link at the annual Infosecurity Europe conference in London, Kroes insisted that an overhauled governance structure was needed to tackle the cybercrime market, which is worth nearly $380bn worldwide, and to deal with the estimated 150,000 viruses in circulation.

She also mooted the possibility of increasing financial support for investing in security technologies through the €120 billion annual EU budget.

Arguing that maintaining internet security requires an EU rather than solely national approach, Kroes commented that:

"Given that internet attacks have such a wide mix of sources and impact, the solution is not simple. Internet security cannot be left to the traditional instruments of national security - as if cyberspace was just another military theatre."

During her speech at this year's meeting of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in January, Kroes warned that there was at least a 10 percent chance of a major breakdown in the worldwide computer network.

The EU executive is expected to present its plan for pan-EU web security in the second half of the year.

The EU's 27 national governments would be expected to ensure that national cyber-information authorities work alongside a "European cyber forum" to allow the pooling of data and information, and to put in place mandatory safeguard measures. The Commission will also draw up emergency contingency plans to deal with cyber-security incidents.

In February, the Brussels-based think-tank Security and Defence Agenda published a report of “country-by-country stress tests” on 23 major countries, as well as the United Nations, NATO and the EU. According to the SDA, Finland and Sweden are the EU countries most capable of withstanding cyber-attacks on their computer network, with eastern and Mediterranean member states the most vulnerable to attack.

Meanwhile, last month the European Commission unveiled its plan to establish a European cyber crime centre. The centre, which the Commission wants to open in 2013, will form part of the EU police agency Europol which is based in The Hague.

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