EC's Reding urges preventive action against cyberattacks

One month without access to the Internet would cost the EU around EUR150 billion, commissioner says

Europe needs a "Mister cyber security" to take control in the event of an attack on Internet infrastructure, Europe's telecommunications commissioner, Viviane Reding said Monday.

She also accused European Union member states of being "negligent" for failing to take adequate precautions against the sort of attacks seen in Estonia, Lithuania and Georgia in recent years.

She estimated there is a 10 percent to 20 percent chance of a similar such attack occurring in the E.U. over the next 10 years.

"A one month-long Internet interruption in Europe or the U.S. would mean economic losses of at least EUR150 billion," Reding said.

Cyberattacks have become a tool for organized crime and an instrument of foreign and military policy, Reding said.

"The reality of cyberattacks is nowadays quite far from being a game or a proof of intelligence and curiosity," she said in a video posted on her Web site.

She called on the 27 member states to act to ensure that Europe's electronic communication networks are well protected.

A top level cybersecurity official would act immediately if a cyberattack is under way, Reding said, describing the person as a "cyber cop" in charge of the coordinating forces throughout the E.U. and developing tactical plans to make E.U. networks more resilient.

"I will keep fighting for this function to be established as soon as possible," she said.

The E.U. has an agency for network and information security called ENISA, but it only shares information between national security agencies.

Reding said there are no immediate plans to extend the agency's role to include coordination of responses to attacks.

Reding's video blog appears as E.U. governments representatives, the European Commission and cybersecurity experts begin a two-day meeting to discuss the strategy recently proposed by the Commission for protecting Europe from cyberattacks and disruptions.

Last March, the Commission called on public administrations, businesses and citizens to act to improve the security and resilience of Europe's critical information infrastructures.

The Commission also urged the public and private sectors to ensure that necessary levels of preventive, detection, emergency and recovery measures are in place in all member states.

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Paul Meller

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