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EU Cybersecurity plan to protect online freedom

7 February 2013

Thursday's press conference with Commission Vice-Presidents Neelie Kroes and Catherine Ashton and Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström. Photo: EbS

The European Commission, together with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has published a cybersecurity strategy alongside a Commission proposed directive on network and information security. The strategy – "An Open, Safe and Secure Cyberspace" - represents the EU's vision on how best to prevent and respond to cyber disruptions and attacks.

This is to further European values of freedom and ensure that the digital economy can grow. Specific actions are aimed at enhancing cyber resilience of information systems, reducing cybercrime and strengthening EU international cyber-security policy and cyber defence. The strategy has five priorities; Achieving cyber resilience, drastically reducing cybercrime, developing a cyber defence policy, developing technological resources for cyber-security, and establishing a coherent international cyberspace policy, promoting core EU values.

Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs said:

"The Strategy highlights our concrete actions to drastically reduce cybercrime. Many EU countries are lacking the necessary tools to track down and fight online organised crime. All Member States should set up effective national cybercrime units that can benefit from the expertise and the support of the European Cybercrime Centre, EC3."

The cyberspace policy advocates the application of existing international laws in cyberspace, while assisting countries outside the EU with cyber-security capacity-building, and promoting international cooperation in cyber issues.

The EU has made key advances in better protecting citizens from online crimes, including establishing a European Cybercrime Centre at Europol, proposing legislation on attacks against information systems and the launch of a Global Alliance to fight child sexual abuse online. The Strategy also aims at developing and funding a network of national Cybercrime Centers of Excellence to facilitate training and capacity building.

The 2012 Eurobarometer poll on cyber security found that 38 % of EU internet users have changed their behaviour because of these cyber-security concerns: 18 % are less likely to buy goods online and 15 % are less likely to use online banking. It also shows that 74% of the respondents agreed that the risk of becoming a victim has increased, 12% have already experienced online fraud and 89% avoid disclosing personal information.

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Read a summary or the strategy in its entirety.