“The possibility of a large-scale cyber attack having serious repercussions in the physical world and crippling an entire sector of society is no longer unthinkable,” Europol announced in a press release on Monday.

To tackle cross-border cyber security threats, the Council of the European Union recently adopted an EU Law Enforcement Emergency Response Protocol, which is part of an EU Blueprint for Coordinated Response to Large-Scale Cross-Border Cybersecurity Incidents and Crises.

The Emergency Response Protocol slices and dices roles and responsibilities in the event of a cyber attack. The plan discusses secure communication channels, identifies points of contact, and outlines seven possible core stages of incident response, from early detection to how to return to business as usual.

Europol’s stages of incident response

The high profile ransomware attacks of 2017, known as Notpetya and WannaCry, caused system bottlenecks across Europe. In England, the WannaCry episode forced the cancellation of 20,000 NHS appointments, and emergency rooms turned away thousands of patients.

“It is of critical importance that we increase cyber preparedness to protect the EU and its citizens from large-scale cyber attacks,” commented Wil van Gemert, Deputy Executive Director of Operations at Europol.

The new protocol attempts to complement existing EU crisis management tactics, while streamlining and refining the process. This redesigned, tightly coordinated system will also hopefully serve to deter all but the most ambitious of cyber criminals.

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