Wednesday

16th Jan 2019

Companies must report cyber attacks, EU says

  • "There is no true freedom without security," said EU digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes. (Photo: European Commission)

Large EU-based companies will have to disclose major cyber-attacks to designated national authorities, under new legislative rules proposed by the European Commission on Thursday (7 February).

“Under our proposal, sectors using telecoms networks in ways vital to our economy and society would have to manage risks and report significant incidents,” EU digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes told reporters in Brussels.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Speaking alongside EU commissioner for home affairs Cecilia Malmstrom and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Kroes said companies dealing with energy, transport, banking, healthcare and Internet fall under the directive.

The scope reaches just over 40,000 firms in the EU. Hardware manufacturers and software developers are exempt.

Member states will need to come up with plans to better manage risks. They will also need to create a so-called cooperation network to pool and share knowledge with other member states and the commission.

The directive also calls for Computer Emergency Response Teams (Certs) to handle incidents.

A chief authority will need to be appointed to prevent, handle and respond to risks and incidents. He or she would be the go-to-point for companies required to report serious breaches and can decide to make it public or keep it secret.

The ideas have already attracted critics.

For one, German Green euro-deputy Jan-Philip Albrecht told this website in an email that making IT firms report only major incidents means they would not have to reveal known other vulnerabilities and risks.

“This leads to action only after the damage has already been done ... it also falls back behind the ‘responsible disclosure’ practices about vulnerabilities that are already established in the IT security industry today,” he said.

But the commission hopes the directive will help reverse a growing reluctance, in its view, among people to make purchases off the Internet or use online services like banking.

Few companies publicly report cyber attacks in fear of damaging their reputation and losing clients. Each attack costs anywhere between several thousand to several million euros of damage.

Over 90 percent of large corporations had their systems hacked in 2012 though the figure drops to 76 percent for small businesses, says the commission.

In one case, Dutch certificate authority DigiNotar went bust in 2011 after failing to disclose that hackers had stolen valuable data. The cyber invaders took digital certificates and circulated them online for widespread fraudulent use.

Larger companies like Amazon are also victims.

Last year, one of the online giant’s retailers had its database breached with hackers accessing the personal details of some 24 million customers. More recently, on 31 January 2013, Amazon’s homepage was briefly taken offline.

The origins of the attacks are rarely made public, though former Google CEO Eric Schmidt points the finger squarely east at China in a book that comes out in April.

A preview from the Wall Street Journal published on 1 February quotes the book as saying China is “the most sophisticated and prolific” hacker of foreign-based companies.

Ashton, who presented a EU cyber security strategy alongside the commission’s draft proposals, refused to respond to a reporter’s question if China was indeed a major culprit.

“I’m not going to comment on what intelligence operations across the European Union are discovering about the origin of cyber attacks...suffice it to say, in my discussions across the world, cyber security is increasingly becoming part of the dialogue of our discussion,” she said.

US free to grab EU data on American clouds

An obscure section in a US law is said to entitle authorities to access, without a warrant, data stored by any EU citizen on clouds run by American companies.

Focus

EU to force firms to report major cyber attacks

Negotiators from the European Parliament and national governments have reached an agreement on new cyber-security rules. Amazon, Ebay and Google are expected to be affected.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish PM calls for EU gender equality strategy
  2. Farage says bigger Brexit majority if second referendum
  3. Macron starts 'grand debate' tour after yellow vests protests
  4. Barnier: up to London to take Brexit forward
  5. Stimulus still needed, ECB's Draghi says in final report
  6. May's Brexit deal defeated by 230 votes
  7. German economy hit by global economic turbulence
  8. MEPs narrowly call for end to 'tampon tax'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  2. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  3. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  4. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  5. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  6. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  7. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025
  8. MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us