Cyber attacks: Europe updates its cybersecurity strategy
Brussels presented a new cybersecurity strategy on Wednesday to prevent computer attacks like the one that recently targeted the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and wants to facilitate the adoption of sanctions. “The threat is real, it is constantly evolving and is becoming more important every day”, said the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell at a press conference. In 2019, “ 450 incidents (cyberattacks) affected crucial European infrastructures, notably in finance and the energy sector ”, he said, pointing out that “with the coronavirus pandemic, the threat has become even greater “.
The EMA was the victim of a cyberattack last week while it is in the midst of deliberation on the issuance of authorizations for several vaccines against Covid-19. The Vice-President of the Commission, Margaritis Schinas, recalled that the computer hacking of a hospital in the German city of Düsseldorf in September had, by paralyzing the emergency rooms of the establishment, cost the life of a patient. ” Europe is a prime target. We know it and we are preparing to fight against it ”, said the Greek commissioner. “It’s a never-ending fight and that’s why we have to organize for this war”, added Thierry Breton, Internal Market Commissioner. He stressed that Europe is targeted “Like any other great power”, with the United States also being the target “Many attacks”.
Strengthen the sanctions regime
Among the planned measures, the European executive wants to strengthen the rules of a 2016 Cyber Security Directive (NIS), in order to better protect crucial facilities such as hospitals, energy networks, railways, data centers, companies or research laboratories. Brussels also wants to establish a “Network of security operations centers” in the EU using artificial intelligence (AI) to detect attacks at an early stage, and create a “Real cybersecurity shield”. The EU recently announced the creation in Bucharest of a “European Center of Industrial, Technological and Research Competence in Cybersecurity”.
The Commission also wants to strengthen its sanctions regime against cyber attacks carried out from outside the EU. It intends to propose to the Council – an institution representing the Member States – that decisions be taken on this subject by qualified majority and no longer unanimously, for greater efficiency. ” It would be a way of strengthening our ability to react, and to dissuade ”, stressed Josep Borrell. The sanctions weapon in retaliation for cyber attacks has been used by the EU on two occasions, in July and October. They concern a total of eight individuals and four entities, from Russia, China and North Korea, said Josep Borrell. The latest sanctions decided in October targeted two Russian secret service officers for a cyberattack on the German parliament (Bundestag) in spring 2015.