Olivia Scott of VPNPro.com, a team of online privacy and security experts, explores the future of cybersecurity in Europe.
Throughout the digital age cyber-attacks have unfortunately become an all too regular occurrence, sparking widespread concern across the globe for anyone who uses the internet. For that reason, it’s now abundantly clear that the authorities need to take drastic action in order to ensure that the future of cybersecurity in Europe can be optimised over time.
However, given that online criminals are utilising increasingly sophisticated techniques in order to gain unauthorised access to personal information, it will probably be easier said than done to emerge victorious in the war against cybercrime. In spite of this, it is absolutely crucial that appropriate measures are put in place as a way of minimising the devastating impact caused by malware, phishing scams, and various other online attacks.
More recently, EU officials have introduced a series of measures as a way of ensuring that a safer online environment can be enjoyed by all Member States. This includes providing support so that individuals and businesses alike will be in a far better position to stay one step ahead of online data thieves – but what exactly does this mean for the future of cybersecurity in Europe?
The increase in cybersecurity threats around the world
Over the last few years, it is safe to say that instances of cybercrime have seen a dramatic increase; not just within Europe, but throughout the rest of the world. Online criminals have effectively taken advantage of weak cybersecurity systems, getting their hands on a countless amount of private data in the process. This represents a huge cause for concern across the globe, as catastrophic consequences often have to be suffered in the event that a cyber-attack takes place.
However, the rise in cybercrime most definitely has not gone unnoticed by EU officials, who have been planning to implement stronger cybersecurity measures for some time now. Back in October 2017, a European Parliament resolution regarding the fight against cybercrime was released in order to increase awareness of the dangers caused by cyber-attacks. It also highlighted the importance of helping individuals, businesses, and public institutions to have more effective precautionary measures in place.
Cybersecurity Act approved in the European Union
Initially proposed in September 2017, the EU Cybersecurity Act addresses the need for a safer environment for internet users. Helping to combat the ever-increasing number of cyber-attacks, the act was introduced in order to provide enhanced online protection for each EU Member States.
Highlighting the European Union’s commitment to providing cybersecurity measures for all, Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, in charge of Digital Economy and Society, said: “Enhancing Europe’s cybersecurity and increasing the trust of citizens and businesses in the digital society is a top priority for the European Union.”
After a series of discussions took place between the European Parliament, the EU Council and the European Commission, the act officially became an EU regulation on 27 June 2019. When it came into effect, the act set out a series of measures which would help to develop strong cybersecurity within the European Union. In the process, the EU Cybersecurity Agency (ENISA) was equipped with the framework and resources needed to deliver stronger support to Member States.
Over time, this would allow ENISA to cooperate and coordinate with the EU which would then enable the necessary action to be taken in the event of a cyber-attack. In addition to this, it will also ensure that Member States will be better prepared should any potential threats arise in the future.
As outlined by the Digital Single Market, the EU Cybersecurity Act essentially ‘revamps and strengthens the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) and establishes an EU-wide cybersecurity certification framework for digital products, services and processes’.
The fight against cybercrime in Europe
As the number of cybercrime victims continues to increase, it would be appropriate to suggest that effective preparation is key. Failure to take precautionary measures has led to numerous cyber-attacks in the past, which is hardly surprising considering many countries throughout Europe did not have effective security practices in place.
According to Eurostat, Malta, Greece, and Spain are among the top five countries which are most at risk of cybercrime, which is likely to be down to the fact they have a large percentage of unsecured internet connections. This effectively leaves them hugely vulnerable to cyber-attacks – more so than many other countries throughout Europe.
Nations including Finland, the Netherlands, and Germany were said to be some of the most adequately prepared countries; but they aren’t yet totally in the clear when it comes to having the necessary resources to avoid cyber-attacks altogether, as instances of cybercrime still remain common. There is still a long way to go before optimal cybersecurity can be achieved across the continent.
With the Cybersecurity Act now in practice, EU Member States should now begin to see an improvement in terms of the cybersecurity options which are at their disposal. However, it remains to be seen whether this will bring a dramatic improvement, or if cyber-attacks will continue to have a negative impact across Europe: only time will tell.
Overall, it is safe to say that the European Union is taking the growing threat of cyber-attacks seriously, which is most definitely a step in the right direction when considering the fact that online criminals will often stop at nothing to get their hands on private data.
However, given that the Cybersecurity Act now forms part of EU legislation and awareness of cybercrime continues to increase, Member States will hopefully now be better prepared to handle any potential threats which may arise in the future.
Of course, the war on cybercrime was never going to be won easily, especially factoring in the fact that cyber-attacks have become gradually become more sophisticated in recent years; but giving European nations the tools and resources that they need to take the necessary precautions can only be a good thing.