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According to a draft plan by POLITICO, the European Union wants to set up a new cyber unit to respond to cyber attacks.
The European Commission will present its plan on Wednesday to set up a so-called “Joint Cyber Unit”, which would enable national capitals to seek help from countries affected by cyberattacks, including rapid response teams that can step in and fight hackers in real time , it says in the draft.
A spate of cyber attacks has devastated the continent and given cause for concern that Europe cannot defend itself or its trade secrets against adversaries. The EU’s plan aims to help countries defend themselves against increasingly sophisticated and brazen attacks by pooling the cybersecurity powers of national governments.
The plan would also create a platform for cybercrime police, cyber agencies, diplomats, military services, and cybersecurity firms to coordinate responses and share resources. And it would generate regular threat reports, prepare and test crisis response plans, and establish information-sharing agreements between government agencies and private cybersecurity companies.
The Commission first committed in 2019 to set up a joint cyber unit to stop cyberattacks that have compromised EU institutions, agencies, ministries and departments, as well as leading European companies and organizations.
However, it took many months to finalize the plan as the EU has no responsibility for national security and EU countries are reluctant to relinquish control over it.
Since then, a volley of cyberattacks has hit national and EU institutions and could force governments to band together. The European Medicines Agency was injured; Cyber espionage campaigns targeted several government officials, including the Belgian interior minister and dozens of Polish politicians; and hospitals in Ireland and France have suffered ransomware attacks.
The Commission’s plan – officially a “recommendation” to national governments – would put the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) in charge of the unit, likely from new offices in Brussels.
The unit would also coordinate the existing work between cyber agencies and authorities across the bloc. A group of EU countries has already set up joint cyber response teams under the EU defense cooperation system. Cyber security agencies have worked together on guidelines to protect elections and 5G infrastructure, and cybercrime police across the continent are working together on investigations at the European Cybercrime Center.
However, most EU countries face cyberattacks themselves and their skills in dealing with such threats vary widely.
The Commission hopes the unit will be fully operational by the end of 2022 and that the European cybersecurity industry is planned to be involved in operations by the first half of 2023.
Along with the recommendation of the Joint Cybersecurity Unit, the Commission will also publish a progress report on its cybersecurity strategy, which it published in December.
It will also announce its risk analysis of the security of “Open RAN” 5G networks – intended as an alternative to end-to-end 5G kit suppliers such as Huawei and Ericsson – to those US, Japanese and other emerging telecommunications providers as POLITICO reported earlier this month.