Europe unveils cyber-shield initiative

The European Commission has announced details of a major initiative to protect itself against the key emerging risk posed by cyber-attacks.

Speaking at the launch, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said that the Cyber Shield would be used to detect, mitigate and react to threats.

The defence system will be based on the prevention and detection of cyber-attacks thanks to a pan-European cyber-shield made up of public and private centres.

The proposals will cost €1.1 billion, of which two-thirds will come from the EU budget. The plans will now be reviewed by member states and the European Parliament before entering into force.

The proposals, first mooted in March 2022, are contained in the draft Cyber Solidarity Act.

“Almost 30% of Europe’s small and medium-sized businesses have experienced cybercrime at least once over the last 12 months,” Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said at the proposal’s launch on Tuesday, adding that the Cyber Solidarity Act marks the last piece of the EU’s broader cybersecurity strategy and makes it operational.

“For the first time, we will be investing together in operational capacities”, she said. “When it comes to cybersecurity, the chance to succeed depends on our ability to work together, as cybersecurity can only be a whole of Europe effort.”

The first core element of the proposal will be the establishment of a European Cyber Shield made up of national and cross-border Security Operations Centres (SOCs) spread throughout the EU.

The intent is to have the SOCs operational next year, creating regional hubs of cyber cooperation with immediate neighbours like the Baltics and Benelux. They will monitor and identify cyber threats using various technologies, including AI, and alert authorities to impending attacks.