Cybersecurity and the new EU strategy for a hyper-connected world

The increasing number of on-line users and the subsequent raising number of cybercrimes force countries to strengthen their cybersecurity in order to protect institutions, companies and people

Progress towards digitalisation is now affecting the lives of billions of people all over the world, contributing to improved and more efficient services. The rate of this process, which has gained momentum during the pandemic, is leading people, companies and institutions to place sensitive data and information on the net.

According to statistics provided by Internet World Stats, as of 31 March 2021, the total number of people globally connected to the Internet amounted to 5.168 billion, of which: 2.75 billion in Asia, 736 million in Europe, 594 million in Africa, 498 million in Latin America, 347 million in North America, 198 million in the Middle East and 30 million in Oceania. Data from Cisco shows that this number is predicted to grow to 6 billion people by 2022 and over 7.5 billion people in 2030. In consideration of this, cybersecurity is becoming an increasingly crucial issue for companies and institutions, from banking and insurance to energy and defence.

According to a report released by Cybersecurity Ventures, the predictions for the current year say cybercrime will cost 6 trillion dollars globally, compared to 3 trillion in 2015, and this figure could reach 10.5 trillion a year by 2050.

Cybersecurity was among the topics discussed during the historic meeting held on 16 June in Geneva between the US and Russian Presidents, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin respectively. The crucial importance of the issue has also been addressed by the United Nations Security Council, which held its first formal public meeting on the subject on 6 July, in which it discussed the growing threat of attacks on key national infrastructures.

In an increasingly connected and digitalised world, the actions taken by countries to prevent cybercrime and protect institutions, companies and people go hand in hand with technological developments. With a network penetration of 89.8 percent, the European Union is one of the most connected areas of the world, compared to a global average of 57.8 percent, but it is also the one where cybersecurity capabilities are most crucial.

 In December 2020, the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) presented a new EU cybersecurity strategy that aims to strengthen “Europe’s resilience” against cyber threats and guarantee that all citizens and businesses fully benefit from reliable digital services and tools.

 As part of this cybersecurity strategy, the EU Commission unveiled the Joint Cyber Unit on 21 June, which has the task of working at an operational and technical level to deliver a response plan to the EU’s cybersecurity crises and incidents and which may be operational from 30 June 2022. The Joint Cyber Unit will allow member states access to a network of “mutual” help in case of an attack at a European level, including rapid response teams.