A New EU Cyber Force Highlights the Power of Strategic Alliances

by Bharat Mistry

Several EU members states have just resolved to develop a new cyber-response force to help mitigate the threat posed by online attacks in the future. It’s another very promising step towards a more joined approach to cybersecurity at a trans-national level. But let’s not also forget the importance of public-private partnerships here, to ensure that those governments avail themselves of the best resources and intelligence available from leading private sector cybersecurity companies.

A new force
A Declaration of Intent was proposed to form the new response force by Lithuania at session of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on Monday. The idea is that each member state will have a specialised unit in charge of interfacing with those of other participating countries to help investigate and neutralise breaking threats. Individuals will be specialists picked from the security services of each country and other institutions.

The initiative is rapidly gaining momentum with Croatia, Estonia, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Romania, and Spain all participants of the project, and four more countries – Belgium, Germany, Greece, and Slovenia – remaining for now as observers. It comes amid growing concerns that cyber-attackers unfettered by national boundaries have the upper hand in launching not only data raids but also disruptive critical infrastructure attacks on SCADA systems and the IoT infrastructure that increasingly permeates every aspect of our society.

The move follows plans announced a few weeks ago to beef up the role of Enisa, granting it a permanent mandate as the cybersecurity agency of the EU. It’s also hoped that the agency will open its first 24/7 incident response centre in Brussels later this year.

The greater good
Trend Micro fully supports these initiatives designed to improve co-operation and incident response capabilities across the region and we hope that the UK will continue to co-operate in future security arrangements. But there’s also a great opportunity in any EU-led initiatives to tap the expertise of the private sector here.

With over 1,200 TrendLabs threat researchers dotted around the world and a global Smart Protection Network which analyses 100TB+ of data to block over 250 million threats every day, we represent a great resource to help in the fight against the black hats. In fact, we’ve already signed up to numerous initiatives and partnerships with Europol and Interpol over the years. Most recently, our landmark Memorandum of Understanding with the National Crime Agency (NCA) saw us work arm-in-arm with law enforcers in the UK to find and bring to justice an individual found guilty of running several crypting and counter anti-virus services.

Governments have to understand that the cyber-attacker always has the advantage: in striking first and usually from a place of anonymity. They are agile, increasingly well-resourced, determined and only need to succeed once to penetrate our defences. The only way to combat such a threat is by joining forces, sharing intelligence and best practice and ensuring there’s no place for them to hide.

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