Barnier calls for post-Brexit cybersec cooperation

The UK and Europe need to work together very closely to tackle cyber security, regardless of the eventual Brexit outcome, according to the European Commission’s chief negotiator.

Speaking at the Amazon Web Summit conference in Lisbon, Michel Barnier stated that any new agreement between the EU and UK will be based both on trade and mutual security, noting that continued cooperation is key to protect against new threats.

“Our new partnership should include the exchange of information on cyber incidents, attackers’ techniques, threat analysis and best practice, including when those target the correct functioning of democratic systems,” he stated.

“Crucially, we need to have capacity to respond jointly to such attacks,” added Barnier.

The UK's twice-delayed departure from the EU is still dependent on a deal being agreed by parliament, before starting a transitional period where the details are ironed out.

“Brexit is not only about the divorce, with so many under-estimated consequences, it is also about building a new partnership with the UK,” said Barnier. “Even when our deal is ratified, that will not be the end of the story, we need to keep in mind that orderly withdrawal is a step - a necessary step - but not the destination.”

Tim Mackey, principal security strategist with the Synopsys Cybersecurity Research Centre, commented: “Any interruption in cyber intelligence and threat sharing between organisations creates opportunities for malicious groups to replay a successful attack scenario against multiple targets.

“This reality is part of why attackers can be so successful exploiting common vulnerabilities – the real exploit is that of lack of awareness of the nature and scope of the threat,” he continued, adding: “Interruptions and uncertainty in cyber data sharing between nations and trading blocks provides those same malicious groups an opportunity to devise attacks knowing that their attack playbook and pattern may not be known by organisations in both states.”

Elsewhere in his speech, Barnier warned that while European countries had led the first industrial revolution, the US and China had now taken the lead. “If we in Europe do not act now, the future of our industry our jobs, personal data and ethical standards will be made in Washington and Beijing.”

He also reiterated his feelings about Brexit, adding: "Let me be frank, until now no-one has ever managed to explain to me the added value of Brexit; not even Nigel Farage.”

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