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Kroes Wants Private-Public European Cyber Security Partnership

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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The EU’s Neelie Kroes says protection of the Internet is necessary for Europe’s economic future

European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes has called for a public-private partnership to help improve cyber security and protect the internet, which is “essential to a stable and growing economy.”

The importance of pan-European cooperation was stressed by Kroes during her speech in Brussels ahead of the European Strategy for Internet Security, which is due later this year. Her call for governments to work with the private sector echoes the UK’s strategy, announced in November 2011, which calls for GCHQ work to be commercialised, and industry bodies to help develop security standards.

Cooperation Necessary

Kroes said that the internet had transformed from a “technical novelty” to the “backbone” of the European economy, but warned that “if the internet isn’t secured, nothing will be.”

“Attacks are going up, more numerous and more serious,” she said. “Attacks are going up, more numerous and more serious. From those doing it for publicity or notoriety, to those involved in organised crime, spying or outright warfare.”

“The private sector owns or controls the majority of ICT infrastructure and is home to nearly all the ICT expertise,” she added. “No plan for cyber security can ignore this fact. Because sometimes we need to share information on threats, on risks, on vulnerabilities. Sometimes that information is sensitive, I agree. But we need to be able to exchange good practices and provide each other with solutions.”

Kroes said that the European Strategy for Internet Security would not only impact European states, but would also affect the private sector.

Adequate Funds

“I want public and private stakeholders to exchange and act on information about cyber incidents and attacks,” she explained. “I also want to stimulate private sector efforts to improve security – by providing the right incentives, and by raising awareness among users.”

Funding will also be given to improve security so that Europe can hold its own in a globally competitive market.

“The Internet does not belong to any one group, but attacks on it affect every group,” said Kroes. “So let’s work together, all sectors, all levels, public and private, national, international and European. So that we can safeguard the security of the systems that increasingly underpin our lives, today and in the future.”

Last week Neelie Kroes proposed new European laws that would make cloud computing more attractive and speed up the process of bringing people, businesses and governments online and she has also been a vocal critic of the failed SOPA legislation.

The British government has recognised the importance of cyber security and has contributed funding to the UK Cyber Security Challenge, which aims to raise the profile of an industry which “keeps the country safe”.