The European Commission proposed the creation of a Europe-wide network and information security agency today.
The European Network and Information Security Agency is to serve as an advice center for the 15 member states on matters relating to cybersecurity, such as computer viruses, Erkki Liikanen, commissioner for the information society, said at a news conference.
"The risk of cybercrime is rising," Liikanen said. Until now, viruses have largely been propagated by young individuals and amateurs, but in the post-Sept. 11 era, there is a risk of worse attacks, he said.
Mobile Internet connections, through mobile phones in particular, are expected to increase the risk of serious attacks, Liikanen said.
The commission has earmarked a $26.3 million budget for the agency over a five-year period, with an additional $9.6 million planned to include the 10 new member states, mainly from Central Europe, in May 2004. The agency will provide assistance to member states' own cybercrime authorities, in particular their computer emergency response teams.
"The [European Union] will benefit from increased coordination between member states to achieve a sufficiently high level of security in all member states," Liikanen said. "The Internet is a wonderful tool, but to be able to benefit from it, you have to guarantee security."
The agency is due to start operating next January. The governments of the 15 member states will decide on a location later this year, Liikanen said.