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EU invests in cybersecurity

The European Commission entered into its first public-private partnership on cybersecurity this week. This deal will include an investment of €450 million from the EU, and as much as triple that figure from key players in the cybersecurity industry.

“The aim of the partnership is to foster cooperation at early stages of the research and innovation process and to build cybersecurity solutions for various sectors, such as energy, health, transport and finance,” explains the official statement from Brussels. The recently founded European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO) will collaborate with bodies from research centres, academic institutions and public administrations at a national, regional and local level to create certified cybersecurity solutions which can be easily implemented throughout all member states.


“Europe needs high quality, affordable and interoperable cybersecurity products and services,” says Gunther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society. “There is a major opportunity for our cybersecurity industry to compete in a fast-growing global market. We call on Member States and all cybersecurity bodies to strengthen cooperation and pool their knowledge, information and expertise to increase Europe’s cyber resilience. The milestone partnership on cybersecurity signed today with the industry is a major step.”

A recent study by PwC indicates that 80 per cent of European companies have experienced a cybersecurity incident in the last year alone, while the number of incidents globally has risen by 38 per cent since 2015.

“It’s good to see the EU increasing funding and making cybersecurity a top priority and sad that, due to Brexit, UK universities and businesses will miss out on this investment,” says Venafi’s Chief Security Strategist, Kevin Bocek. However, as The Register’s John Leyden points out, the UK’s status within the EU is currently undetermined; it may continue to be a member for another two years, in which case “a UK lockout is far from definite.”

This week also marks the approval of plans in the European Parliament to introduce legislation which will ban terrorist content online. Specifically, the law will require national authorities to immediately remove illegal content which constitutes public incitement to commit a terrorist offence. However, there are concerns that this proposed law, which is being championed by German MEP Monika Hohlmeier, is a reactionary move which will actually cause more problems than it creates.

“Speed is being prioritised over quality,” says Joe McNamee, Director of EDRi, the digital rights organisation. “The calculation appears to be that it is better for the EU to be seen to be doing ‘something’ rather than taking its time to adopt legislation that is actually fit for purpose… An unclear, confused, rushed, and populist directive risks being significantly worse than no legislation at all.”

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