EU Companies and Cybersecurity Threats

Companies must be the protagonists in the fight against cybercrime through the synergic application of different skills and disciplines, in the perspective of tackling complex phenomena such as cybercrime.

There are many and challenges that the EU companies, in a globalized economy, in the face of modern digital development, are called to face – they must be personally involved in the prevention, emergence and containment of the effects of cyber-attacks.

A company must be appropriately adequate to the level of concrete risks for the conduct of its activities, in order to make possible and facilitate the exercise of public functions of monitoring and ascertaining wrongdoing activities.

The Numbers of Cybercrime

The issue of the relationship between cybersecurity and companies is increasingly significant, and this report is now central by going hand in hand with the development of digital technologies and their use, not only for economic growth and development, but also for criminal purposes.

At the same time, many cyber-events precisely confirmed that the essential use of IT tools in the management of business activities – and are market players – are particularly vulnerable and exposed to cyber-attacks, as evidenced by the data processed by IOCTA – the Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment – prepared annually by the European Cyber Center (EC3), which operates within Europol.

Only in 2017 the WannaCry and Notpetya attacks, consisting of the spread of 300,000 users’ data worldwide, in more than 150 countries, with economic damage of around 4 billion dollars.

The World Economic Forum, which, in its 2019 Global Risk Report, ranked cyberattacks among the top five global risks.

The Close Connection Between Computer Security and Personal Data Protection

All that is indicative of the need for an effective, innovative and integrated approach to the problem of fighting cybercrime, based on active corporate involvement and fruitful collaboration between the public and private sectors.

It is no longer possible to react without an integration of technical-scientific, legal and economic expertise to ensure the development of appropriate cybersecurity systems in order to protect the confidentiality of data, by including the prevention, containment and management of cyber-risks.

This trend has begun to develop over the last twenty years – we have seen the emergence of new safety control systems in EU companies who have to facilitate the sharing of good practices.

From a legal point of view, the focus is on finding effective ways of protecting against illegal activities that can jeopardize the confidentiality of information stored by companies, causing considerable capital damage.

The Need for Supranational Regulation

The need for a uniform regulation of the subject in the supranational field is based on the adoption of European Union legislation, i.g. with the adoption of GDPR to protect the treatment and free movement of personal data.

This goal gives private market entities a central role in  fighting cyber-attacks and protecting the confidentiality of personal data from the same threats, as well as the massive amount of information of employees, agents, associates and suppliers that companies possess.

New Organization and Control Obligations for Companies

The imposition of new obligations on companies about cyberthreats against their organizations and control, as well as notifications to the relevant authorities, aim to make private entities accountable and aware by promoting the spread of a culture of cyber-security, capable of developing virtuous synergies with the functions of public authorities.

By implementing an effective circulation of information, that will achieve an acceptable  level of containment and risk management in a globalised economy environment.

Information Circulation, Exchange and Development of Best Practices

A central importance is given to the breach notification system prepared by the current EU regulations that provide for a timely communication of the incident that affected the continuity and/or provision of the service.

The logic of public-private partnership serves not only in the preparation of prevention and risk control procedures but also for an information exchange system with companies – in fact, the relevance of this mechanism of rapid transmission of news and immediate intervention is expressed with the possibility of reporting a different subject, compared to the recipients of the legislation.

The prospect of information circulation, exchange and development of best practices is also enhanced in the supranational field, as required by the current cross-border survey of economic activities, with the dissemination and processing of data, as well as cybercrime itself.

The configuration of a network of bodies from different countries belonging to the European Union in order to achieve a fruitful form of cooperation in the exercise of their respective powers will be a single point of contact for facilitating effective contacts between the relevant public authorities within the European Union and international authorities.

Non-EU Data Protections

All of this has been mentioned before, including companies in borders beyond the European Union, provided that the owner or controller is established within the European Union, a testament to the global dimension of the phenomenon: the necessary appropriate organisational and technical measures to protect the integrity and confidentiality of data is essential for the EU recipients of the legislation.

It also enhances the provision by the private sector of good practices and guidelines, stipulating that compliance of the treatment to the current legislation can be provided by adhering to codes of conduct drawn up by associations of category, as well as by obtaining ad hoc certifications.

The Function of the Data Protection Officer (DPO)

EU companies, in the near future, a must operate with forms of risk assessment in practice and with preparation of the organizational measures, extended to all stages of the processes of management of confidential information and evaluation of the real effectiveness of the carried measures.

The provision of an additional monitoring body is represented by the DPO – Data Protection Officer – with the important function of raising awareness of those involved in the exercise of activities at risk – he will train the company’s staff and will be a contact and control exchange with national authorities.

DPO can be tied with solutions tested in other areas where models have been tested and based on the independent provision of rules in a broad sense of caution with the exercise of effective internal controls, as well as on the enhancement of virtuous practices and acts of soft law.

Access and Cooperation in Digital Evidence

It is a role that works in the field of investigation and research of evidence, especially when accessing digital evidence: forms of direct cooperation between public authorities and service providers of other countries are contemplated in recent regulatory proposals drawn up within the European Union and the African Union.

Such measures would be carried out in the absence of mediation by the public authority of the reference country, and it must be align with the requirements of speed/effectiveness of computer investigations.

It is also a matter of using cooperation tools that reflect the new needs of research and the acquisition of volatile and virtual evidence, which need to be insured and protected quickly – small companies included, will have to become prominent players in the fight against cybercrime through the synergic application of different skills and disciplines in the perspective of tackling complex phenomena such as cybercrime.

Dr.Luciano Magaldi
Dr.Luciano Magaldi
Dr Luciano Magaldi is a Security Engineer with deep expertise in cybersec, new technologies and international geopolitics. He is an Honorary Member at White House Historical Association and Official Alumnus at Stanford Alumni Association - Club of Los Angeles, and at Cambridge at Harvard Alumni for Education Association. He is an Opinion Contributor for the 'New York Weekly', the 'London School of Economics of London - The London Globalist' and 'Modern Diplomacy'. He worked for Google Ireland, Apple European Headquarters, Amazon Slovakia and Microsoft Portugal.