EC initiative aims to shield Europe from cyberattacks

The European Commission has outlined a draft strategy designed to protect the EU's critical information infrastructure from large-scale disruptions and attacks

The European Commission on Monday launched a draft strategy designed to protect Europe's critical information infrastructure from large-scale cyberattacks.

In outlining the proposed measure, the Commission said in a statement that the Critical Information Infrastructure Protection (CIIP) policy complements existing measures in the area of police and judicial co-operation "to prevent, fight and prosecute criminal and terrorist activities targeting CIIs".

The proposals, it said, would also reflect the Commission's research efforts in the field of "network and information security".

The Commission is proposing a five-stage policy, which will include setting up Computer Emergency Response Teams to be created through a European public/private partnership.

The strategy aims to look at the detection of and response to cyberattacks, by developing a "European information sharing and alert system". The Commission said this is an area where it will aim to involve citizens and small businesses.

The Commission said it will also seek to reinforce EU defence mechanisms, which will involve strengthening EU-wide co-operation.

Large-scale electronic spying and infiltration has become more of a regular feature of the internet, with malicious attackers gaining access to private websites and disrupting their activities, the Commission said.

On Saturday, The New York Times reported that researchers in Canada uncovered a vast electronic spying operation involving infiltration of computers around the world, with documents stolen from government and private offices — including premises belonging to the Dalai Lama. The researchers, from the Munk Centre for International Studies in Toronto, said that at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries had been breached in just under two years by the system it has dubbed GhostNet.

The Commission also noted that in 2007, large-scale cyberattacks had shut down the Estonian parliament's email system for 12 hours and two major Estonian banks had to stop their online services. There were also 50 incidents of rupture to submarine cables recorded in the Atlantic Ocean in 2007 alone, the Commission said.

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