Saturday

17th Nov 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.

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

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.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Why 'Spitzenkandidat' is probably here to stay

The power of the parliament to 'appoint' the president of the EU Commission is new, highly-contested - and not universally understood. In fact, even some of the lead candidates to replace Jean-Claude Juncker are against it.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us