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European Commission’s forced disclosure policy set to fail businesses

01 Feb 2013
V3 reporter Alastair Stevenson photo

It's crystal clear the cyber threat facing businesses is far too big for even the largest of enterprises to face alone.

A few years ago the European Commission (EC) finally began wading into the issue. The body talked about a united Europe, with common cyber laws that facilitated the sharing of information regarding cyber incidents between businesses, governments and law enforcement agencies.

Back then, many of the security professionals I spoke to were cock-a-hoop over the proposals - there may even have been dancing involved. But then the EC mentioned mandatory disclosure within 24 hours.

Time and time again we've been told forced disclosure simply won't work. This isn't because the motivation is inherently flawed. If anything the motivation is the policy's only redeeming feature, with it being intended to force companies to share data and alert their customers and partners when they may be in danger.

But the sad truth is it will likely have the exact opposite effect. This is because 24 hours simply isn't enough time for companies to sensibly know what has happened on their network and get their ducks suitably in order for the inevitable reputation damage among customers and partners that will follow.

Because of this, many firms are likely to not risk the release of inaccurate information about the "incident" and just ride the inevitable backlash they'll receive, but instead try and hide the information and risk a fine. If this happens, the current security situation will remain unchanged with cyber crooks and hacktivists continuing to ride the cyber seas pillaging company networks as they go.

Hopefully the EC will take some more time to think about the forced disclosure policy, listen to people in the security industry, and offer companies an incentive, not threat, to share their attack and defence data.

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Alastair Stevenson

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

View Alastair's Google+ profile

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