EU to launch joint cybersecurity team

The EU is set to launch a new unit that will allow its 27 constituent countries to pool their resources to respond to cyberattacks.

The "Joint Cyber Unit" will have rapid response teams who the EU said will be able to answer requests for aid from European nations in real-time.

The news comes after several cyberattacks have severely impacted EU members in recent months. In May, two ransomware attacks disabled a large portion of the Irish healthcare system's IT infrastructure, while in March the German parliament was targeted by a “spear phishing” attack.

The new division will be under the control of the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) and will be based in Brussels.

The European Commission hopes the unit will be operational by the end of 2022, and that it will be integrated with Europe's cybersecurity industry by the first half of 2023.

Funding for the Joint Cyber Unit is set to come from the Commission's programme for digital technology and may also draw from the defence research and development fund.

Members of the unit will be sourced from the EU Agency for Cybersecurity, as well as Europol's European Cybercrime Centre, the EU foreign service EEAS, the European Defence Agency, and private sector experts from EU countries.

Nation state cyber-attacks are becoming more frequent and varied in their nature and moving closer to a point of ‘advanced cyberconflict’ than at any time since the inception of the internet, according to recent academic research by the University of Surrey sponsored by HP.

The research found that there has been a 100 per cent rise in ‘significant’ nation state incidents between 2017-2020.

"Today, we can no longer distinguish between online and offline threats," said European commission vice president Margaritis Schinas. “We need to pool all our resources to defeat cyber risks and enhance our operational capacity.”

"When we look at the current cyberthreat landscape, it is genuinely borderless and a global challenge," says Jens Monrad, director, EMEA, at Mandiant Threat Intelligence. "There is certainly a need for more political involvement to address the fact that some of the most impactful cyberthreats, like ransomware, still seem to operate with impunity from countries that appear to offer a degree of safe harboring as long as the cybercriminals do not target their own country or region."

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