Concern over personal-data security as internet trading expands.
As online shopping, banking and social networking become routine activities for many of us, concern about cybercrime is mounting. The EU is looking at ways to maintain consumer confidence in the web.
Anyone can be a victim. We've all received spam, and read about major cyber attacks on governments. In Europe, cyber-criminals are using some 6 million hijacked computers to defraud people and spread spam. Just 4% of this spam actually reaches our mailboxes, but only because large amounts are spent on anti-spam defences.
For European small businesses to thrive, they must be able to rely on data systems keeping their information safe. Companies trading across borders need secure, up-to-date technology to inspire confidence in online customers.
European small businesses account for around two-thirds of private-sector jobs. If the businesses are confident and secure, the economy will be too.
The EU recognises how vital tackling cybercrime is to consumer security – countries need to work together, investing both money and expertise. The situation is complicated because the levels of protection provided in different countries still vary widely.
The European network and information security agency (ENISA), points out that EU countries have their work cut out to overcome cybercrime and fraud.
Not an unimportant task, says the EU agency, as fraud can cost €100m a year (2006). This is a fight Europe cannot afford to lose.