EU Cybersecurity Strategy and Directive

February 7, 2013

The European Commission, together with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has published a cybersecurity strategy alongside a Commission proposed directive on network and information security (NIS).

The cybersecurity strategy – “An Open, Safe and Secure Cyberspace” – ‘represents the EU’s comprehensive vision on how best to prevent and respond to cyber disruptions and attacks’ It is said that the aim is to further European values of freedom and democracy and ensure the digital economy can safely grow. 

The relevant documents can be accessed in full here, and  the informative FAQs are here

The Commission press release states:

‘Specific actions are aimed at enhancing cyber resilience of information systems, reducing cybercrime and strengthening EU international cyber-security policy and cyber defence.

The strategy articulates the EU’s vision of cyber-security in terms of five priorities:

·                     Achieving cyber resilience

·                     Drastically reducing cybercrime

·                     Developing cyber defence policy and capabilities related to the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)

·                     Developing the industrial and technological resources for cyber-security

·                     Establishing a coherent international cyberspace policy for the European Union and promoting core EU values

The EU international cyberspace policy promotes the respect of EU core values, defines norms for responsible behaviour, advocates the application of existing international laws in cyberspace, while assisting countries outside the EU with cyber-security capacity-building, and promoting international cooperation in cyber issues.

The EU has made key advances in better protecting citizens from online crimes, including establishing a European Cybercrime Centre (IP/13/13), proposing legislation on attacks against information systems (IP/10/1239) and the launch of a Global Alliance to fight child sexual abuse online (IP/12/1308). The Strategy also aims at developing and funding a network of national Cybercrime Centers of Excellence to facilitate training and capacity building.

The proposed NIS Directive is a key component of the overall strategy and would require all Member States, key internet enablers and critical infrastructure operators such as e-commerce platforms and social networks and operators in energy, transport, banking and healthcare services to ensure a secure and trustworthy digital environment throughout the EU. The proposed Directive lays down measures including:

(a) Member State must adopt a NIS strategy and designate a national NIS competent authority with adequate financial and human resources to prevent, handle and respond to NIS risks and incidents;

(b) Creating a cooperation mechanism among Member States and the Commission to share early warnings on risks and incidents through a secure infrastructure, cooperate and organise regular peer reviews;

(c) Operators of critical infrastructures in some sectors (financial services, transport, energy, health), enablers of information society services (notably: app stores e-commerce platforms, Internet payment, cloud computing, search engines, social networks) and public administrations must adopt risk management practices and report major security incidents on their core services.’

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda said:

“The more people rely on the internet the more people rely on it to be secure. A secure internet protects our freedoms and rights and our ability to do business. It’s time to take coordinated action – the cost of not acting is much higher than the cost of acting.”

Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission said:

“For cyberspace to remain open and free, the same norms, principles and values that the EU upholds offline, should also apply online. Fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law need to be protected in cyberspace. The EU works with its international partners as well as civil society and the private sector to promote these rights globally.”

Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs said:

“The Strategy highlights our concrete actions to drastically reduce cybercrime. Many EU countries are lacking the necessary tools to track down and fight online organised crime. All Member States should set up effective national cybercrime units that can benefit from the expertise and the support of the European Cybercrime Centre EC3.”