EC forms a single cyber security agency for Europe

Businesses will play a key role in a €24.3bn (£16bn) cyber security agency unveiled by the European Commission this week to...

Businesses will play a key role in a €24.3bn (£16bn) cyber security agency unveiled by the European Commission this week to combat the growing threats posed by computer viruses, hacking and denial-of-service attacks.

The European Network and Information Security Agency aims to act as a central resource for European countries facing security threats and will set out to tackle Europe's patchy performance on information security.

The proposed agency, the fruit of six years' work by the EC, will give businesses a single contact point for influencing the development of European policy on computer security.

"For business, it will mean there will be one voice for information security policies in Europe," said Lorenzo Valeri, senior security analyst at Rand Europe.

A key task of the new body will be to encourage countries to collaborate on information security with a view to improving their ability to respond to major information security problems.

The agency also plans to collect and analyse data from member states on security threats and to independent issue advice on how best to respond to them.

"It will make businesses more secure, especially the small and medium-sized companies. They will have access to well developed guidelines that are not currently available," said Valeri.

The agency, which plans to appoint experts from business to an advisory board that will supplement its initial staff of 30, also plans to work with security suppliers to ensure their products and services can work together.

Announcing the proposals, Erkkii Liikanen, commissioner for enterprise and the information society, said that co-ordination across Europe on information security was not yet adequate. "Member states are in different stages of their work and approaches vary. There is no systematic cross-border co-operation on network and information security, although security issues cannot be an isolated issue for only one country."

n In a separate development, the Cabinet Office is to create an information security unit to co-ordinate IT security across government. The unit, to be headed by e-envoy Andrew Pinder, will have a staff of 20. It aims to promote best practice, risk management, and to identify any gaps in information security.

Read more on IT risk management

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