The European Commission is seeking feedback on how best to safeguard Europe’s critical electronic networks against disruption from attack or natural disasters.
It follows a public presentation of the findings of a study identifying a range of important issues for ensuring that future networks are sufficiently protected and resilient.
The Commission said protective measures needed to be put in place to ensure that critical services and infrastructure were not vulnerable to such failures, and that there was no "domino effect" that might result in a major collapse of communications and the many services they support.
Viviane Reding, European commissioner for information society and media, said, "Communication and information infrastructures are the nervous system of our modern society.
"As our dependency on them grows, we need to do all we can to safeguard such networks. I would not like Europe to experience the huge problems Asia faced over Christmas as a consequence of an earthquake south of Taiwan."
Reding urged businesses and communications suppliers to take part in a consultation linked to the published report.
The study assessed the reliability (against failure) and the robustness (against attack and other hazards) of Europe’s critical electronic communication networks.
Its findings offer insights into the overall security of these networks, based on extensive interviews with various stakeholders, and makes 10 recommendations.
The recommendations included
- Emergency exercises and drills
- The establishment of pre-arranged priority restoration procedures
- The conclusion of formal mutual aid agreements between operators and service providers
- Addressing interdependencies between the communications and other critical sectors
- The enhancement of information-sharing mechanisms including cross-sector communications
- The use of industry consensus best practices
The Commission is set to use the consultation as part of a planned strategy set to be adopted in early 2008.
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