The European Union Needs a Cyber Security Czar

The European Commissioner for Information Society and Media says

During her last weekly video message (transcript - PDF), entitled "Europe must be prepared for cyber attacks," the EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding, brought forward the idea of a "Mister Cyber Security." The Commissioner wants such a position established as soon as possible, in order to better coordinate Europe's cyber forces and develop practical defense plans.

All recent armed conflicts were backed up by informational attacks targeted at strategical online assets, such as the official communication channels. Even though all governments have rejected any accusations of involvement and claimed that these attacks were performed by popular cyber militias, professionals in the security industry say that the prospect of fully-blown cyberwars is near.

The United States are determined to take the necessary steps to ensure that their Internet infrastructure is properly protected against the numerous cyber espionage attempts or future attacks. The Obama administration has started by declaring the cyber infrastructure a strategic asset.

Ms. Reding feels that the European Union is falling behind, mostly because some member states are more prepared to fend off these threats than others. She exemplifies this with Estonia, which was the subject of such a co-ordinated cyber attack in 2007. As a result, "The websites of administrations, parliament, banks, newspapers and broadcasters were swamped."

"So far, the EU's 27 Member States have been quite negligent. […] I believe Europe must do more for the security of its communication networks," the Commissioner notes and also points out that, "A one month-long Internet interruption in Europe or the US would mean economic losses of at least 150 billion euro."

A Cyber Security Czar is Ms. Reding's answer to the inability of ENISA, the European Network and Information Security Agency, to reform in the short term and efficiently respond to informational threats. Currently, this body is mostly used by the member countries to exchange information about cyber security problems.

"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," Ms. Reding, who will run as a candidate in the upcoming June elections for a new European Parliament on behalf of the European's People Party (EPP), concludes.

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