EU agency proposed to counter cyber attacks

11 Feb 2003

A network security agency for member states and EU institutions to boost cyber security and international co-ordination has been proposed by the European Commission.

The European Network and Information Security Agency will provide assistance to member states, notably their computer emergency response teams, on matters relating to cyber security. This assistance aims, for example, to ensure interoperability of information security functions in networks and information systems, the commission states.

At present, there is no central entity at European level that collects and analyses such data. According to the commission, EU governments are increasingly making efforts to improve cyber security on their territories.

However, it states that there is no systematic cross-border co-operation on network and information security between member states.

The European Parliament and the European Council are also advocating closer European co-ordination on information security.

Today more than 90pc of companies in the EU have an internet connection and the majority of them operate a website. In 2002, 40pc of EU households had their own internet connections, more than two thirds of the EU population used a mobile phone and public administrations are progressing towards electronic government. With all this in mind, international co-ordination and co-operation on issues of information security is vital, according to the commission.

In the near future, security requirements will rapidly change as networking and computing develop further and electronic communications become more ubiquitous, the commission says.

For example, broadband connections offer people the possibility of being connected to the internet at all times which will multiply the potential risks of cyber attacks and new wireless applications will enable the users to access the internet from anywhere, it adds.

Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner responsible for Enterprise and Information Society, says the EU will benefit from increased co-ordination between member states to achieve a sufficiently high level of security in all member states.

“The European Network and Information Security Agency will build on national efforts to enhance network and information security and to increase the ability of member states and EU institutions to prevent and respond to network and information security problems,” he adds.

The European Network and Information Security Agency is scheduled to start operations in January 2004.

By Lisa Deeney