Commission keen to create EU cybercrime centre
By Benjamin Fox
The European Commission is on Wednesday (28 March) set to propose a European Cybercrime Centre in a bid to tackle rising levels of online crime across Europe.
The agency, which is expected to open in 2013, will also be responsible for training national experts on cyber crime and form part of the EU police agency Europol.
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The EU executive sees the cybercrime centre as the focal point in co-ordinating national cyber authorities established by member states, and pooling information gathered by national and European police IT networks, in an attempt to map organised crime online, especially online fraud schemes.
The cybercrime centre, which the Commission first mooted in its 2010 Internal Security Strategy, is the latest EU move to combat cybercrime.
MEPs and member states are currently finalising a directive on attacks against computer networks, which is set to criminalise the sale, production and use of 'botnets', networks of infected computers that can be remotely controlled to launch large-scale coordinated cyberattacks.
Meanwhile, the 2011 Directive on combating the sexual exploitation of children online and child pornography is also under discussion.
Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes earlier this week told a meeting of cybersecurity experts that the Commission would also present a European internet security strategy in autumn.
To be drawn up by Kroes, her home affairs colleague Cecilia Malmstrom and EU Foreign affairs chief Cathy Ashton, it will focus on co-operation between member states and the private sector.
Kroes wants beefed up cyber oversight. She said that the obligation to notify security breaches to government, which currently applies to telecoms companies, should be extended to companies in the energy, water, finance and transport sectors. Meanwhile, the EU budget should provide funding for security technologies.
Although the total cost of cybercrime is unknown, the most recent estimate by online security provider McAfee suggested global corporate losses amounted to €750 billion a year. Meanwhile the volume of cyberattacks – with over 150,000 viruses in circulation and 148,000 computers compromised per day – places an impossible burden on law authorities.
Kroes noted that estimates made at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in January put the likelihood of a major breakdown of the global computer network over the next decade at ten percent.