The European Commission is to strengthen its cyber crime response capabilities by giving greater powers to the European Network and Information Security Agency (Enisa).
Digital Agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes announced at a press conference in Brussels yesterday that the proposals would mean extending Enisa's mandate to 2017, and broadening its remit "to give it the greater flexibility and capability required to address growing cyber threats".
The new-look Enisa would be better equipped to advise on the establishment of a Computer Emergency Response Team, according to Kroes, and could respond more rapidly to urgent requests and assist in the development of a pan-European cyber security alert system.
Kroes also explained that Enisa should be able to promote risk management and security good practices and standards, as well acting as an "interface between those who work on maintaining the security of our networks, and public authorities enforcers" such as the judiciary, the police and data protection watchdogs.
"With this proposal Enisa will be able to make a greater contribution to ensuring a safer online environment, and I therefore call on the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers to adopt this proposal as soon as possible," she concluded.
"Once these reforms have been enacted, Europe's governments, businesses and citizens will be more prepared and better defended against cyber threats."
Rik Ferguson, senior security advisor at vendor Trend Micro, welcomed the proposals.
"It's gratifying to see international/transnational bodies beginning to take an active role in improving the security of the internet," he said.
"We hope that internet service providers will work closely with the new proposals in order to respond quickly and effectively to fresh intelligence regarding criminal activity."
Robert Rutherford, managing director of consultancy QuoStar Solutions, warned that Enisa faces a huge task.
"It is a start, though, and you need to start somewhere. Sharing information and working with other EU countries at this level can only improve the collective's knowledge, and that has to be a good thing," he said.
"The threats are there and they are global, so we need to work together with as many friendly governments as possible."
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