Cyberwarfare has transformed from a science fiction staple to a real-life threat. On 12 June MEPs approved plans to better protect Europe's critical information infrastructure from malicious cyber attacks. In the report Bulgarian Social-Democrat Ivailo Kalfin examines the challenges to Europe's cyber security and how to overcome them. In the near future MEPs will also look at cybercrime, data protection and how to keep children safe online.
Need for protection
Cyberwarfare has the potential to harm citizens and businesses alike, according to Mr Kalfin: "Internet is a critical infrastructure and internet disruption might lead to substantial losses and security risks, affecting a very large number of European citizens and businesses."
To protect national and European critical information infrastructures, minimum resilience standards for preparedness and reaction against attacks and disruptions should be regularly updated. There should also be ways of totally cutting off access to a critical infrastructure if a direct cyber attack poses a severe threat to its proper functioning.
As cyberwarfare represents a threat to the critical infrastructure of all countries, Mr Kalfin underlined in his report the need for international cooperation. He calls on the European Commission and the European External Action Service to start a constructive dialogue with all like-minded countries in order to develop a common understanding and policies on how to protect critical infrastructure. He also urges member states to establish well-functioning national Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) and develop national cyber security strategies. In addition the MEP stressed that the vast number of ongoing activities by national, EU and global bodies require coordination in order to avoid duplication.
The report argues there is a need for better education regarding online threats. The Commission should launch a public pan-European education initiative, educating internet users about potential threats. There is also a need for pan-European exercises to prepare for large-scale network security incidents, while owners and operators of critical information infrastructures must support users so they can protect themselves from malicious attacks.
The civil liberties committee is preparing its response to a proposal the Commission launched in January 2012 for a new legal framework for the protection of personal data in Europe.
In addition German Christian-Democrat Monika Hohlmeier is working on a cybercrime report, which deals with attacks against information systems.
Finally, Italian Social-Democrat Silvia Costa has prepared a resolution calling for a single framework directive on the rights of minors and combating unsuitable content in the digital world. The culture and education committee is expected to vote on it on 10 July.
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