Cybersecurity: working together to anticipate the challenges ahead

Steven Wilson

Head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3)

The number and frequency of cyberattacks is increasing exponentially in Europe, as are fraud and extortion. Although Europe’s blue-chips have already embarked on the fight against cybercrime, smaller businesses and individuals are still very exposed. The key to containing this epidemic is concerted action.

A significant level of cybercrime involves malware infiltrating and taking over a device to steal valuable information or corrupt data. One of the most challenging kinds of malware today is ransomware, which locks users out of their devices until they pay a ransom – some businesses choose to make this payment as they have no other means to recover their data despite there being no guarantee they will recover their files. The General Data Protection Regulation, which came into effect in May 2018, holds companies accountable and has prompted businesses, including SMEs, to finally take measures to protect themselves and their customer’s data. What we really need to focus on now is to raise awareness of the risks associated with hacking and support efforts to stave off those risks. A cyberattack can jeopardise a company’s entire existence through reputational damage, which means cybersecurity isn’t just another constraint businesses have to accommodate; it’s a competitive advantage for those businesses that are able to demonstrate sound cyber security practices. However, we cannot achieve cybersecurity merely through technical solutions. It is well known a large number of security breaches are down to human error, which means it’s also essential to train employees and individuals.

More about Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3)

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Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) is tasked with leveraging law enforcement and industry response to improve the collective response to cybercrime in the European Union, and thereby protect people, businesses and governments. As an example of this cooperation at Europol, we’ve teamed up with 176 international stakeholders – police services, justice systems and companies specialised in IT security – to kick off the “No More Ransom” initiative. We’re also very active on social media, providing daily security tips for internet users and businesses. The fact that we’ve partnered with 69 key players in the cybersecurity arena across the public and private sectors is one of our strengths. It puts us in a position to defuse attacks today, anticipate the risks going forward (IoT, AI, etc.) and provide governments with the safeguards they need.

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