Jun 25—Massive cyber attacks have EU experts worried. What if one strikes at 3:00 am and affects critical infrastructure? To allay this concern, the European Commission announced plans to bring together resources and expertise through a Joint Cyber Unit, which will be responsible for emergency handling of large-scale cyber attacks.
The Joint Cyber Unit’s rapid response teams will collaborate with communities, law enforcement, diplomatic and cyber defense communities, and private sector partners, although the unit will also work autonomously.
“We know that the longer you wait, the worse [the attack] is, so faster and more solidarity is what you can expect,” says Thierry Breton, EU commissioner for the internal market.
“All relevant actors in the EU need to be prepared to respond collectively and exchange relevant information on a ‘need to share’, rather than only ‘need to know’, basis,” says the European Commission.
Joint Cyber Unit, in-depth
The Joint Cyber Unit will function at an operational and technical level to provide the EU Cybersecurity Incident and Crisis Response Plan, which will be based on existing national plans.
Furthermore, it will provide emergency cyber assistance, both in-person and virtually, to organizations experiencing large-scale cyber incidents. The unit will not compete with or duplicate the work of national cyber security groups.
The Unit represents a concrete means of delivering on improved cyber security. Thierry Breton expects that the Joint Cyber Unit will be up and running by June of 2022 and that it will be “fully established” by June of 2023.
The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) will operate as the secretariat during the unit’s development phase. The unit is expected to work near ENISA’s Brussels offices and the office of CERT-EU, the Computer Emergency Response Team for EU agencies and institutions.
Financial resources for the Unit’s development will emerge from the European Commission, largely via the Digital Europe Programme. Other funding may come from the European Defence Fund.
UK ransomware task force
The UK ransomware task force, a recently formed group, asserts that ransomware attacks represent the most significant cyber security threat to the region. Experts state that ransomware is ruining lives, and cyber gangs aren’t getting caught.
Ransomware gangs have targeted UK schools and hospitals. “More than just money is at stake,” the Ransomware Task Force has stated. “Ransomware has become a serious national security threat and public health and safety concern.”
In 2020, the UK’s national Cyber Security Centre, which is a member of the Ransomware Task Force, reportedly dealt with more than triple the number of ransomware events as compared to 2019.
According to the Ransomware Task Force, in 2020, hundreds of serious ransomware attacks hit nations around the globe, from the UK to Brazil to South Africa to Australia. The collective cost of ransomware exceeds $42 billion, according to the BBC, and its disruptive nature means that critical infrastructure and other ingrained elements of our societies could unexpectedly collapse.