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The European Union is currently working on setting up a region-wide cybersecurity team to combat the growing threat posed by cyber attacks.

The plan, which is currently under discussion by the European Commission, aims to launch a Joint Cyber Unit that would allow EU members afflicted by cyber attacks to receive help from other Member States and a rapid response unit equipped to move in immediately to ward off the cyber crooks.

As explained by Astrea’s Steven De Schrijver and Jan van Loon in an article for Mondaq, European authorities are “concerned with the fact there is no structured mechanism yet to facilitate cooperation between Member States and the EU cybersecurity institutions, which would be crucial in case of a major cyberattack.”

According to Politico, this scheme lays the foundation for “a platform for cybercrime police, cyber agencies, diplomats, military services and cybersecurity firms to coordinate responses and share resources.”

In the spirit of the many regulations out there requiring for the exchange of information, this cybersecurity team would also develop threat reports and response plans and manage the exchange of information between regulators and private cybersecurity companies.

Since 2019, several attempts to assemble this Joint Cyber Unit have been made to little avail.

EU member states have full control over their own security issues and it has been difficult to convince them to team up with others.

However, the slate of cyber attacks that have rocked the region during the past couple of years, particularly in the overstretched healthcare sector, have pushed EU countries to seek alternative ways of combatting cyber crime.

New challenges have been posed by an increase in the number of interconnected electronic devices, the widespread installation of 5G networks, and repeated attacks taking advantage of the chaos wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, pressure has been mounting on the EU to do something to quell these attacks.

Green MEP Rasmus Anderson said during a recent European Parliament session, “Cybersecurity is one of the major challenges we are currently facing in security policy.”

Likewise, Seán Kelly, also an MEP, said, “the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards digitalization,” which in turn has led to “a significant rise in cybercrime, as criminals take advantage of the massive shift towards remote work.”

The European Commission expects the Joint Cyber Unit to be up and running by 2022 and to incorporate Europe’s private cyber security sector by some time in 2023. The plan is for the unit to be led by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) and have offices in Brussels.

While this is a “recommendation” at this stage, the hope is most EU Member States will take up this offer.

Generally speaking, the cyber security industry welcomed this news.

Raghu Nandakumara, the field CTO at Illumio, an American business data center and cloud computing security company with offices in the UK, believes this is a step in the right direction.

“Cyber security is always most effective when there is healthy collaboration between groups, and in that light the formation of the Joint Cyber Unit by the European Commission is very welcome,” Nandakumara said.

“It’s a logical progression from the 2016 NIS Directive which required individual member states to be appropriately equipped, facilitated strategic cooperation and information exchange, and imbibed a culture of security in sectors critical to the economy and security.”

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