Speech by Commissioner Avramopoulos at the ministerial conference on high-tech crime and information security “Connect securely”, Belgrade 20/9/2018

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20 Sep 2018
  • Αβραμόπουλος Avramopoulos
  • Αβραμόπουλος Avramopoulos
  • Αβραμόπουλος Avramopoulos
  • Αβραμόπουλος Avramopoulos

Video: https://youtu.be/0Z1Lf-wEiB0

Dear all,

First I wish to thank our hosts here today, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Nebojša Stefanović.

Cybersecurity is a pressing issue of concern for citizens, governments, economies and businesses, and internet companies across the globe.

It is an urgent issue for our democracies: our institutions, our elections, the security of our societies.

Digital and online security is intertwined with our physical security and integrity.

So today's event is incredibly timely. As the world becomes ever-more connected and digitised, pursuing a coherent and operational policy on protecting cyberspace is essential.

The online world gives us incredible opportunities to connect, exchange and learn.

But cyber means can be unfortunately also be used for financial gain or for political motives, by terrorists, criminals or state actors.

Cybercrimes are easy to perpetrate and can be devastating and difficult to trace or attribute.

The latest Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment Report by Europol offers us some stark findings.

Europol tells us that the Darknet remains a significant area of concern. Europol also tells us about a convergence between cybercrime and terrorism.

On top of that, with recent ransomware attacks, a dramatic rise in cyber-criminal activity, and the diversification of cybersecurity incidents, we proposed last year a wide-ranging set of measures to build strong cybersecurity in the EU.

Terrorists for example can abuse the internet to prepare and facilitate their actions,  and to disseminate their propaganda.

In this context, last week we proposed a new legislation to ensure that:  

(1) terrorist online content is effectively taken down as quickly as possible,

(2) that online platforms take measures that their services cannot be misused and

(3) that removed content is not re-uploaded elsewhere.

Our cooperation with internet companies is crucial, and our voluntary work through the EU Internet Forum over the past three years has brought very clear results.

We must continue this partnership, and our joint fight against those who try to abuse the great freedoms of the internet.

I am happy that some representatives of these internet companies are also here today.

On top of fighting terrorism online, we have also proposed a set of concrete measures to safeguard the order and system of elections in Europe.

This includes greater transparency in online political advertisements and the possibility to impose sanctions for the illegal use of personal data in order to deliberately influence the outcome of the European elections.

The objective of our proposals is to address potential threats to elections and thereby strengthen the resilience of the Union's democratic systems.

We want to bolster Europe's democratic resilience and make sure that the off-line rules created on transparency  and to protect the electoral process from any interference also apply online.

Together with Member States we should also complete the joint work on the blueprint for cooperation in the event of large scale cross-border cybersecurity incidents.

Moreover, the new measures we proposed to combat fraud and the counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment will give a more effective law enforcement response focusing on detection, traceability and the prosecution of cyber criminals.

This year we proposed also the creation of the European Cybersecurity Competence Centre to invest in stronger and pioneering cybersecurity capacity in the EU.

The Competence Centre will help the EU retain and develop the cybersecurity technological and industrial capacities,  which are necessary to secure our Digital Single Market.

Effective international cooperation is a must if we want to tackle these global threats, which do not stop at geographical borders.

Effective detection, traceability, investigation and prosecution are quintessential in our fight against any form of cybercrime.

We will only begin to turn the tide on cyber-attacks  when we increase the chances of criminals getting caught and sanctioned for committing them.

We are committed to support and promote the Budapest Convention, the first international treaty seeking to address internet and computer crime, as it is a valid model for an effective standard of cyber legislation and concerted global action against cybercrime.

Serbia for example, together with other partners in the Balkan region, is participating in a joint project of the European Union and the Council of Europe,  which strengthens the authorities' capacity to fight cybercrime.

We need close cooperation and effective information sharing between all stakeholders to tackle cyber-criminality.

I already mentioned the internet companies, but international and EU agencies such as Europol and ENISA are the key hubs of our operational cooperation on this.

Our operational Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), also present here today, will get a stronger mandate, more resources, and a stronger operational role to support our Member States in dealing with cyber-threats.

It will be the nerve centre of our operational response to large-scale cyber incidents at all levels.

Dear all,

Almost one hundred years after the end of the First World War, we are no longer fighting in trenches.

Instead, we will be increasingly fighting threatening ideas, actions and systems in the virtual world.

We will need to remain vigilant and proactive to stay ahead of the game.

But most importantly, we will need to continue working together to fight these transnational and cross-border threats.

The challenge of promoting global cyber stability is a task that no country, and no region can promote alone.

Cybersecurity is a responsibility for all of us.

From companies and governmental organisations,  to each and every last citizen using a connected device.

Our perspective and approach can therefore only be global, for a threat which is borderless. 

Thank you for your attention.

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