EU security commissioner Julian King says Europe faces a growing threat of cyber attacks
In an interview with AFP, the EU security King urged the European Union to shore up its defenses in the face of a mounting danger.
Brussels has seen a sharp rise in “more and more dangerous” cyber-attacks on EU servers in the past year, as anxiety increases about potential Russian meddling in European politics.
The latest revelations add to concern over the possibility that Moscow could interfere in French and German elections in coming months, after US intelligence agencies blamed the Kremlin for hacking Democratic national committee emails ahead of last year’s US presidential election.
He gave the example of the European Commission, the EU’s powerful executive, The EU Commission “has just launched a new public-private partnership which we hope will generate 1.8 billion euros ($1.9 billion) in investment in research” in cybersecurity, he said.
King highlighted for example initiatives involving the private sector and Europol, the EU police agency, to fight “ransom on-line,” where criminals demand money from individuals or firms to unblock computers they have hacked.
The European Commission suffered a 20% rise in attacks on its infrastructure in 2016, it has been revealed, as fears grow over Russian attempts to influence the outcome of major elections in France and Germany.
People “close to the situation” told the FT of the growing threat from cyberspace, with hackers keen to get their hands on a treasure trove of information on the EU’s 28 member states held on Commission servers.
Senior civil servants have apparently been instructed to follow security best practices such as using encrypted email.
The Commission is said to be stepping up cybersecurity co-operation with Nato, which has also experienced a rise in attacks.
EU security commissioner Sir Julian King told the paper that at the most extreme end, cyber attacks can undermine the democratic process.
“It’s clear that many institutions across Europe and more widely, and that includes the European Commission, are subject to a continuously increasing number of cyberattacks from different sources,” he added.
“These threats are persistent, they are aggressive, and more and more dangerous and potentially destructive.”
“Cybercrime cost the European economy nearly 60 billion euros ($64 billion) in 2016″ and the bill will continue to rise, King said ahead of a cyber security conference in the northern French city of Lille on Tuesday.
“An increasing number of hackers use cyber space to spread doubt about our political systems,” he said.
“The people who are trying to do that, with criminal or other objectives, would like to work in the dark,” the EU Security commissioner and former British ambassador to Paris said.
“So the first thing we can do is to shine a light to what is going on in order for people to realize what is going on,” said King, who will likely be Britain’s last top EU official as the country prepares for Brexit.