Europe is being urged to set up its own international cybersecurity agency to tackle the growing threat posed by cyberattacks.
Jose Luiz Gilperez, security chief at Telefonica, said that cyberthreats have developed in recent years to pose just as significant a danger as physical threats.
Of particular concern is a fundamental change in the types of individuals perpetrating cyberattacks. While the stereotypical image of the lone hacker may have held true in the past, cyberattacks are now being carried out by hacking collectives, gangs of organised criminals or even national governments. Mr Gilperez stressed that in order to counter this new threat, cybersecurity must become “a matter of business, and a matter of states.”
For example, there have been claims that China has instigated attacks against US organisations, although the Beijing government has strenuously denied these reports. As well as being implicated in a data breach occurring at the US Office of Personnel Management, China was also blamed for launching its so-called “Great Cannon” cyberattack at software repository site GitHub.
Gilperez believes that the unpredictable nature of cyberattack means Europe must start taking them more seriously. He cites the US, where $14 billion is spent on cyber defences, as an example that Europe needs to follow.
However, shoring up the continent’s cyber defences may be easier said than done, as it is unlikely that there are enough personnel in traditional defence roles with the skills required to thwart cyberattackers. Gilperez suggests that partnering with the private sector could be a way for national governments to source the digital talent needed.
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High-profile security breaches demonstrate that the threat posed by cyberattacks is already severe, but it is only likely to get worse. With the number of connected devices expected to grow rapidly as a result of the Internet of Things, the importance of robust security protocols will also increase.