Monday

22nd Jan 2018

Opinion

Europe must play stronger role in cyber security

  • Why are European countries not openly discussing their own sanction policy against foreign hackers? (Photo: kaspersky.com)

The personal data of an estimated 18 million federal employees of the United States were recently affected by a cyber breach at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

This OPM breach is catastrophic for the US, both for national security and for the individuals whose information has been compromised.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Director of national intelligence, James Clapper announced that China is to blame, and this is not the first time the US is blaming China for severe cyber espionage and cyber attacks.

For Europeans it is most interesting to see how US will now react.

The United States earlier this year declared a strong cyber sanction policy against foreign nation-state hackers and published cyber deterrence guidelines in the Pentagon's new strategy.

Europeans are almost always following the US example in cyber security. But why are European countries not openly discussing their own sanctions policy against foreign hackers?

Washington is currently at the forefront of conceptual and political discussions, as well as practical actions, in cybersecurity.

Having spent at least a decade integrating the cyber domain into its security and social thinking, it has also taken the lead in using cyber attacks as a tool of foreign and security policy, thereby placing it far ahead of Europe.

Most European countries have cyber strategies on paper, but public discussion at policy and doctrinal levels and practical measures are not as mature as they are in the United States.

Without serious efforts in Europe the gap is only likely to widen.

This would increase the potential for Europe to become the focal point for more serious cybercrime, espionage and even debilitating attacks.

Cyber security policy

Cyber security has entered the domain of foreign and security policy due to the ever-globalising world. In this digital domain, strategic advantage can be either lost or won.

The Cybersecurity Strategy for the European Union and the Eurpean Commission proposal for a Directive on Network and Information Security put forward legal measures and give incentives aiming at making the EU's digital environment the most secure in the world.

But it is not easy to deal with 28 countries and despite these steps at EU level, European cyber security remains almost exclusively a national prerogative.

This must change.

The most important driving force for a new “cyber Europe” could be European industry. At the moment US companies and other companies outside of Europe are dominating the rapidly growing cyber security market.

For example, in the latest list of “cybersecurity companies to watch in 2015” there are few European companies in Top 100.

At the moment there is a special opportunity to European companies because there is a lot of suspicion in the market towards cyber security products from the US, China, and Russia.

European companies would be able to enter the market as a more trusted partner.

US dominance

Europeans are very dependent on foreign internet services, especially GAFA, which stands for Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon. Nine out of 10 Internet searches in Europe use Google.

Where are European alternatives for these companies? Nowhere. This dominance should worry Europe, even if the current situation works fairly well.

In the US, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon are generally praised as examples of innovation and the same kind of innovativeness must be encouraged and supported in Europe.

The question is not only how much Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon dominate every facet of our lives, but also how important and precious the data they possess is in today's world.

This data should be understood as a part of cyber power - and Europeans are letting it go abroad.

European cyber security companies and digital platform industries must transform themselves and become more competitive.

It is also the job of politicians and lawmakers to protect both European industries and European digital rights.

Cyber security issues should be brought more actively into the political discussions in European governments and Europe must clearly outline its own policy on topical cyber security questions. This is the only way to securing its cyber future.

Jarno Limnell is a professor of cybersecurity at Finland’s Aalto University and vice-president of Insta DefSec, a private firm

Cyber space needs stronger rule of law

Even cyber warfare should be bound by conventions, for instance, not to attack hospitals, the Dutch foreign minister and the EU foreign policy chief say.

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.

Ten Commandments to overcome the EU's many crises

A series of missteps - from the faulty institutional infrastructure of the euro, to the migration crisis - have left the EU battered and in near crisis. Here are ten steps to re-democratise the union.

EU's 'old men' must pressure Poland on abortion rights

Despite fresh crackdowns on Poland's already restrictive abortion laws, EU commission president Juncker did not raise the issue with the new Polish PM Morawiecki - perhaps because it was an all-male event?

News in Brief

  1. Abbas in Brussels to discuss Palestinian state recognition
  2. Exiled Catalan leader leaves Belgium for first time
  3. CSU politicians set to oppose concessions to SPD
  4. Greek mass protests against use of 'Macedonia' in name dispute
  5. Oxfam report reveals inequality as Davos elite gather
  6. Macron: France would probably have voted to quit EU
  7. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  8. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. How Oettinger's CO2 permit sale could fill Brexit blackhole
  2. New Polish foreign minister tries to charm EU commission
  3. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  4. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  5. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  6. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  7. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  8. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap