"Millions of Europeans use the Internet for home banking, online shopping and planning holidays, or to stay in touch with family and friends via online social networks. But as the online part of our everyday lives grows, organised crime is following suit - and these crimes affect each and every one of us," said Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Home Affairs. "We can't let cybercriminals disrupt our digital lives. A European Cybercrime Centre within Europol will become a hub for cooperation in defending an internet that is free, open and safe."
The EU experts will also work on preventing cybercrimes affecting e-banking and online booking activities. Another priority will be to protect social network profiles from e-crime infiltration and to help the fight against online identity theft. It will also focus on cybercrimes which cause serious harm to their victims, such as online child sexual exploitation and cyber-attacks affecting critical infrastructure and information systems in the Union.
The European centre will warn EU Member States of major cybercrime threats and alert them of weaknesses in their online defences. It will identify organised cyber-criminal networks and prominent offenders in cyberspace. It will provide operational support in concrete investigations, be it with forensic assistance or by helping to set up cybercrime Joint Investigation Teams.
The Commission's proposal now needs to be adopted by the Europol management board and the centre is expected to start operations in January next year. It will be established within the European police agency, Europol in The Hague (The Netherlands).