EU Takes Cyber Defense to the Next Level with Cyber Solidarity Act

Published: 12 December 2023

hacker-silhouette-hack-anonymousThe European Union plans to strengthen the fight against cyber crime. (Photo: Pixabay, License)

By Erika Di Benedetto

The European Parliament adopted legislation on Thursday aimed at enhancing the European Union's ability to combat the growing number of cyber attacks, which now cost the world's economy trillions of dollars.

Once also adopted by the Council of Europe, the "Cyber Solidarity Act" will establish a network of Security Operations Centers (SOCs) across the continent, allowing countries to cooperate in detecting and preparing for cyber threats.

The plan is to also establish a Cyber Emergency Mechanism and a European Cybersecurity Incident Review Mechanism. The former improves preparedness and response to cybersecurity incidents, while the latter analyzes incidents to draw lessons from them.

“Strengthening cooperation will be key to guaranteeing cybersecurity in the EU,” said Lina Gálvez Muñoz, Member of the European Parliament (MEP). “This proposal comes from the need to increase cooperation between member states and strengthen EU capacity to be better prepared for cyberattacks, which are increasing in number, intensity, and regularity throughout the EU.”

Small and medium-sized businesses, startups, as well as national and local public services, are the primary targets of cybercriminals due to their limited financial resources for better protection against cybercrime.

Funds allocated for the Cyber Solidarity Act would increase by 100 million euro (US$107.617 million), totaling 842.8 million euro ($906.996 million) to combat cybercrime.

Europol emphasized that it is not just financial data, but data more generally, that is a key target for cybercriminals. The police agency explained that data breaches are more common, involving cases of fraud and extortion.

One of the most significant cybercrime threats in the European Union is ransomware, where users are denied access to their devices, and fraudsters demand a ransom for regaining access. More than 10 terabytes of data are stolen monthly, according to the Council of Europe statement.

The cost of global cybercrime reached 5.5 trillion euro ($5.921 trillion) at the end of 2020, twice the amount in 2015, according to the Council's estimation.

The Cyber Solidarity Act amendment was approved by the Industry, Research and Energy Committee with 43 votes in favor, 10 against, and 1 abstention. MEPs also agreed to begin discussions with the Council of Europe.

If the Council agrees with the wording of the law, the legislation will be finally adopted. If not, the Council will negotiate the details of the law with the EU Parliament until they both agree.