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28th May 2017

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Parliament demands single EU voice on cyber-security

  • The Commission has announced plans to set up a European Cybercrime Centre in 2013 (Photo: UK Ministry of Defence)

MEPs in Strasbourg have urged the European Commission to propose harmonised EU measures to combat cybercrime.

A non-binding report drafted by Bulgarian centre-left MEP Ivailo Kalfin analysing the extent of online security in the EU was overwhelmingly adopted Tuesday (12 June), with a 573 to 90 majority.

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The Parliament wants the Commission to come forward with pan-EU minimum standards and protocols to improve the reaction time and resilience of the internet system in Europe. The report calls on all member states to set up national cyber incident contingency plans. It also demanded that the Commission propose legislation to criminalise cyber attacks including online fraud.

Presenting his report in Parliament on Monday evening (11 June), Kalfin said that while he welcomed the proposed Cybercrime Centre the EU needed a coherent strategy on internet security.

“What is very much missing is a framework at European level”, he said.

Praising the Commission's attempts to strike a cyber co-operation agreement with the US, Kalfin urged it to establish "an active Europe-wide position on cyber-security" to be brought up at G8 and G20 level and to form part of discussions on development policy and international trade agreements.

“Europe has to have a single voice on cyber-security”, he concluded.

Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes told MEPs she would present a “comprehensive European strategy for cyber-security” within the coming months. The Commission will also start “developing an external EU cyber-security policy.”

Kroes added that the Commission would take further steps to improve the cyber-security of industrial control systems. At the end of March, the Commission announced plans to set up a European Cybercrime Centre in 2013 based at Europol's headquarters in The Hague, with a primary task of co-ordinating national cyber-crime authorities and training national experts.

Estimates on the size of the global cybercrime market vary, although the most recent study by security firm McAfee claimed that cyber-attacks caused $750bn in corporate losses in 2011. MEPs want the EU executive to provide data specifically on the costs of cyber attacks in the EU, particularly on the ICT and financial services sectors.

Figures indicate that there are an estimated 150,000 viruses in circulation with 148,000 computers compromised per day. Security analysts believe that there is at least a 10 percent chance of a major breakdown in the worldwide computer network in the near future.

Meanwhile, MEPs and ministers are still working to finalise legislation on attacks against computer networks in a bid to put it into law by summer. The proposed directive is set to criminalise the sale, production and use of infected computer networks known as 'botnets', which can be used to coordinate cyber-attacks.

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