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Individual analysis articles written by SECURITY EUROPE

Horizon 2020 programme throws cash at cybersecurity-related security projects, hoping something will stick to the Dark Web

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, with BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS – Among the measures included in European Commission’s cybersecurity package, adopted on 13 September 2017, is the goal of transforming the European Union Agency for Information Security (ENISA) into a new cybersecurity agency. The Commission is also pushing researchers to study new ways to tackle Europe’s burgeoning cybercrime threats. The need is great, to say the least. According to the EU, ransomware attacks increased by 300 per cent between 2015 and 2017, and may increase four-fold again by 2019. One of the workshops during the 6 December meeting of the Commission’s “Community of Users” (CoU) of security research stakeholders (see related article in this issue) focused on cybercrime, several related research projects and the eye-raising statistics that confront authorities in their efforts to combat it. As Michele Socco of the Commission’s home affairs directorate-generale (DG HOME) told the workshop, “65 percent of digital evidence is...

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Security research ‘community of users’ marks new approach

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – On 5-6 December, security research policymakers and practitioners gathered for the latest meeting of the European Commission-sponsored “Community of Users (CoU) involved in EU-funded security research. The CoU seeks to unify the fragmented landscape of the research sector by encouraging collaboration between researchers, industry and practitioners such as emergency first-responders and border-control officers. Andrea De Candido, deputy head of unit for security research at the Commission’s home affairs directorate-general (DG HOME), told the conference that 2018 “will be the next step of evolution. Our meetings – more thematic and more tailored to the users – will allow better exchanges of information” between researchers, practitioners and policymakers and thus a more tailored approach to a specific user’s needs. “Research cannot be seen as a stand-alone effort,” he said. “It only makes sense if it’s inserted into a broader picture of a capability-driven approach to security research.” Connecting research with practitioners demands looking ahead, he said. “Some capability packages are directly tied to technologies that need to be available,” he said. “We are drawing line between what we have today and what we will have 10 years from now.” CoU’s organisers always use the occasion to showcase the latest research results. Several ongoing projects presented their status reports and two stood out from the rest. The first, known as...

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Draft EU proposal to control exports of dual-use surveillance software and related products now shifts to Council for debate

By BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS – After years of hesitation about how to regulate its commerce, the EU is preparing to clamp down on exports of cyber-surveillance products and other high-end digital technologies to prevent their use for repressive ends or as re-export to banned third countries. A new vote on 17 January by the European Parliament now moves the EU one step closer to this goal. In its amendments to a Commission proposal, the EP has considerably tightened some of its terminology and thrust, while throwing its full weight behind the proposal’s inclusion of a human rights (HR) “catch-all” clause – essentially a yardstick by which the human rights credentials of the importing country must be assessed by the exporting EU member state. “The HR clause allows each member state to define new items and, if no opposition from other [EU members], it will apply to all,” Klaus Buchner, German Green member of the European Parliament who led the amendments, told reporters prior to the vote. However, this and other hoped-for changes approved by the EP during plenary vote suffer a potentially fatal structural flaw in that..

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‘Nuggets’ seeks to ensure online security by keeping it in-hand

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – In October, the US-based credit reporting agency Equifax revealed that hackers had penetrated the company’s databases and stolen the private information of over 145 million people. Looted identity data included the “big four” personal security identifiers of name, address, birth date, and social security numbers. These four identifiers together constitute the basis for most personal consumer transactions, online or off. According to the Chicago Tribune, cyber-criminals have already begun using the stolen info to take out credit cards, mortgages, and student loans. Many now wonder if keeping such vital personal data inside vast corporate ‘silos’ is a good idea in the first place. Shouldn’t consumers make purchases, or take out loans, without allowing companies to hold on to their personal data? One company hopes to change the way that consumers interact with online retailers by using...

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The liberal pushback (hopefully) begins: boosting the rule of law

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – The rule of law in the European Union is in danger. That was the message from “The State of Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights in the EU,” a seminar held in the European Parliament on 9 January. Hosted by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), the seminar featured chilling stories of EU-wide corruption and media repression. In particular, Polish government efforts to politicise its judiciary have provoked great alarm among EU leaders, particularly among MEPs. The seminar’s main take-away...

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While illegal border crossings into the EU are down from record 2015 highs, the United Nations seeks a global pact on migration

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, reported this month that its detections of illegal border crossings into the European Union dropped 60 percent in 2017 compared with 2016, to some 204,300 persons. By contract, in 2015 over 1.8 million persons crossed illegally, with nearly 90 percent coming either by sea through the Eastern Mediterranean or over land through the Western Balkans. The 2017 figure is still high by historical standards. Between 2009 and 2014, according to Frontex, illegal border crossings averaged nearly...

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Update on tenders and calls-for-proposals in EU security (17/01/2018)

1. Study on opportunity and feasibility of an EU blockchain infrastructure The EU Commission is looking carefully at blockchain developments with the objective of setting the right conditions for the advent of an open, innovative, trustworthy, transparent, and EU law compliant data and transactional environment. This feasibility study will be carried out to assess the opportunity, benefits, and challenges of …

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EU Security Research Projects Awarded (17/01/2018)

NEWLY AWARDED PROJECTS: SiEUGreen: Sino-European innovative green and smart cities SiEUGreen aspires to enhance EU-China cooperation in promoting urban agriculture for food security, resource efficiency and smart, resilient cities. Building on the model of zero-waste and circular economy, it will demonstrate how technological and societal innovation in urban agriculture can have a positive impact on society and the economy by …

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Upcoming European security conferences & exhibits (17/01/2018)

Here are some upcoming events related to European civil security we think readers should be aware of: 7th International Conference on Sensor Networks – SENSORNETS 2018 22-24 January 2018, Madeira, Portugal International Cybersecurity Forum 2018 23-24 January 2018, Lille, France 10th Conference on European Space Policy 23-24 January 2018, Brussels, Belgium CPDP-2018-The Internet of Bodies 24-26 January 2018, Brussels, Belgium …

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Impact of EU’s forthcoming defence fund riddled with unknowns

By BROOKS TIGNER , BRUSSELS – The rhetoric of EU and national leaders kow-tows incessantly to the vitality and importance of SMEs – small and medium sized enterprises – for Europe’s economic innovation and job-creating potential. Yet successful innovative SMEs in the EU that soar to become giants on the world stage are few and far between. There are a couple of Skype-type exceptions, but too many of Europe’s “garage” inventors who have a good idea, particularly in the digital field, head for the greener pastures of the USA where bureaucratic obstacles are lower, returns higher and venture capitalists more willing to take risks than their European counterparts. This points directly to the EU’s forthcoming European Defence Fund (EDF) and how it will generate high-tech results within the framework of PESCO, the permanent structured cooperation in defence that 23 EU member states (and counting) will set in motion in 2018. Such projects will necessarily have to draw in dual-use innovations from the commercial realm. A critical acid test for the defence fund will be to what extent it enables SMEs with interesting dual-use products in one PESCO country to...

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