Europe needs a security tsar to defend and protect its communications networks against attacks from organised crime, rogue states and breakdowns, Viviane Reding has claimed.
The EU's Commissioner for information society and media's portfolio "encompasses telecommunication networks, broadband internet access and satellite communications, new communications technologies such as ‘3G’ mobile communications and Internet telephony, and digital material as diverse as cinema releases and advanced eHealth services."
Reding has a weekly video-cast on the web and the latest one relates to her presence in Tallinn, Estonia at the EU Ministerial Conference on Critical Information Infrastructure Protection, which involves ministers and experts working on "a better-coordinated cyber security strategy for Europe."
She considers that so far the EU's 27 Member States have been "quite negligent" in the matter of securing the EU's communications networks. The need for a top-level cyber cop is evident from what happened in Estonia in 2007. "Key information systems (in) Estonia, were attacked by thousands of computers from abroad: the websites of administrations, parliament, banks, newspapers and broadcasters were swamped," Reding said. "This has happened in a similar way in other countries and regions of the world.
"Cyber attacks have become a tool in the hands of organised crime, a means of blackmailing companies and organisations, of exploiting the weakness of people, but also an instrument of foreign and military policy, and globally a challenge to democracy and economy... A one month-long internet interruption in Europe or the US would mean economic losses of at least 150 billion euros."
She is less than satisfied with the EU's preparedness, where there are wide differences between member states' approaches and capacities to respond to a potential network breakdown, saying: "I am not happy with that. I believe Europe must do more for the security of its communication networks. Europe needs a "Mister Cyber Security" as we have a "Mister Foreign Affairs", a security tsar with authority to act immediately if a cyber attack is underway, a Cyber Cop in charge of the coordination of our forces and of developing tactical plans to improve our level of resilience. I will keep fighting for this function to be established as soon as possible."
The UK's Cabinet Office believes the UK is better prepared than many other EU states, being well ahead of the game. ®