As expected, the EC has announced plans to establish a European Cybercrime Centre to help protect European citizens and businesses against these mounting cyber-threats.
According to the announcement, the centre is to be set up within the European Police Office, Europol in The Hague, Netherlands.
The centre will be the European focal point in fighting cybercrime and will focus on illegal online activities carried out by organised crime groups.
Interestingly, a priority for the centre will be to protect social network profiles from e-crime infiltration and preventing online identity theft.
It will also focus on cybercrimes which cause serious harm to their victims, such as online child sexual exploitation and cyber-attacks affecting critical infrastructure.
“We can’t let cybercriminals disrupt our digital lives. A European Cybercrime Centre within Europol will become a hub for cooperation in defending an internet that is free, open and safe,” said Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Home Affairs.
In theory, the European centre will warn EU Member States of major cybercrime threats and alert them of weaknesses in their online defences. It will identify organised cyber-criminal networks and provide operational support.
To “achieve its tasks and to better support cybercrime investigators, prosecutors and judges in the Member States”, the EC said the centre will collect information from open sources, private industry, police and academia.
The intention is for the centre to serve as a knowledge base for national police in EU states, pooling European cybercrime expertise and training efforts.
The EC wants the centre to serve as a platform for European cybercrime investigators, where they can have a collective voice in discussions with the IT industry, other private sector companies, the research community, users’ associations and civil society organisations.
For the Centre to be established, the EC’s proposal now needs to be adopted by the budgetary authority of Europol, but if everything goes according to plan, the centre is expected to start operations in January 2013.
Jeremy Nicholls, European channel director at Arbor Networks said the company’s Worldwide Infrastructure Report published last month revealed that almost 74% of respondents do not refer security incidents to law enforcement.
“This figure, which appears to be caused by factors such a low level of confidence that something will be done, lack of resource within companies and general company policy – is a concerning one,” he said.
Ron Gula, CEO of Tenable Network Security said cybercrime is often perpetrated by individuals working together from different countries. “I’m in favour of any law enforcement initiatives that allow for easier sharing of cyber-crimes, the techniques used and any data that may have been stolen,” he said.
Gula believes the new European Cybercrime Centre will enhance cybercrime coordination across the EU. “At the moment, each EU country has different laws which affect user privacy and stipulate varying corporate penalties for losing data. Coordinating cybercrime offenders at the EU level will not only better leverage crime fighting resources in each EU country, but it will also provide a consistent response,” he said.
It is also important to remember, said Gula, that while the new centre will focus on ecommerce and protection of internet users privacy, if and when there is a cyber-terror event, the culture and practices of sharing cyber-criminal investigations will ultimately enable the EU to respond quickly and effectively.