Cybercrime: EU Agrees On Stricter Security Rules Against Cyber Attacks

Hospitals, energy grids and other parts of critical infrastructure are increasingly becoming the target of cyber attacks. This should change with new safety rules.

Hospitals, energy networks and other parts of critical infrastructure are to be better protected against cyber attacks and natural disasters within the EU in the future. The French EU Council Presidency announced that negotiators from the EU states and the European Parliament agreed to tighten the applicable security rules for network and information systems. This is also intended to address the dangers of health crises such as the  corona pandemic.

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According to the EU Commission, which presented a corresponding proposal at the end of 2020, eleven sectors are affected by the new rules. Among them are the areas of energy, transport, banking, health, drinking water and public administration. "It is crucial to protect our economy and our society from physical threats that could lead to a disruption of services that are essential for people's daily lives and for the functioning of our internal market," said EU Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas.

According to the new rules, the EU states will have to develop national strategies and regular risk analyzes in the future in order to identify critical infrastructures. The infrastructure facilities themselves must also prepare appropriate risk analyzes and, if necessary, take measures to increase their resilience. It is also planned to introduce a sanction system. It is intended to allow fines to be imposed as soon as operators do not comply with safety requirements.

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The European Parliament and the EU states still have to formally confirm the agreement. Once the new rules are in place, countries have 21 months to ratify them.

Number of attacks increased tenfold in the last three years

The EU Court of Auditors recently criticized the lack of security in EU institutions. Because the institutions are closely intertwined, vulnerabilities could lead to enormous security threats. According to a report by the EU Court of Auditors, the number of cybersecurity incidents in EU institutions increased more than tenfold between 2018 and 2021.

For example, in December 2020 there was an attack on the European Medicines Agency (Ema). Unknown persons stole documents about the Covid vaccine from the Mainz-based company BioNTech and the US pharmaceutical company Pfizer. According to information provided at the time, Ema's IT system proved to be a weak point.

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