Sunday

24th Mar 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.

Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election

Smer, Slovakia's ruling party, wants the country's media to give politicians a right-of-reply, or face stiff fines. Advocates of a free press are alarmed, and it poses a problem for the European Commission, whose vice-president is a Smer presidential candidate.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us