With 315 Million Europeans using the internet each day, the provision of critical services and the functioning of a modern economy are now entirely dependent upon the robustness and safety of cyberspace and its infrastructure. Cyber security is also a growing economic opportunity for Europe, with the market predicted to be worth over $100 Billion by 2018 (European Commission). However, cyber attacks in the EU are growing in both their sophistication and frequency. In severe cases, companies are vulnerable to losing billions of Euros, falling victim to business interruption, extortion, industrial espionage, counterfeiting, data theft and data manipulation. As such, cybercrime is one of the greatest threats to business and governments around the world, with a global cost of approximately $445 bn annually (World Economic Forum, 2016).
Europe’s original strategy for cyber security was launched in 2013. Two years later, the European Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on the Commission’s proposed measures for the security of network and information systems (the NIS Directive) and on the data protection reform. These measures established a harmonised framework across Europe, with the Directive on security of Network and Information Systems (NIS) becoming the very first piece of European-wide legislation on cyber security. Its provisions aimed to make the online environment more trustworthy and therefore support the smooth functioning of the EU Digital Single Market. By September 2017, the European Commission will review the EU Cybersecurity Strategy and the mandate of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), to align it to the new EU-wide framework on cybersecurity. It will propose additional measures on standards, certification and labelling to ensure that connected objects are more secure.
At present, Europe’s ability to detect, investigate and counter threats from cyber activities is significantly challenged. Technological advancements have far outpaced policymakers’ responses to the shifting threats of cyberspace, with solutions driven primarily by national interest, rather than multilateral collaboration. Developments in the Internet of Things (IOT) pose new challenges, whilst the cybersecurity market itself remains highly fragmented, due to a lack of interoperability and reduced consumer trust in cross border e-commerce. With cyber security becoming intimately linked to public life, including essential services such as energy, transport, water and health systems, it is imperative that Europe steps up its digital security agenda and simultaneously harnesses the growing benefits of an interoperable digital market.
In line with the upcoming review of the European Cyber-security strategy, this symposium will provide businesses, local actors, industry regulators, intelligence agencies, police, technology specialists, academics and other key stakeholders with a timely and invaluable opportunity to engage with European cybersecurtity policies, collectively enhance our defences to malicious actors and address the root causes of vulnerability to cyber threats.
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