According to ENISA, the number of web web-based attacks around the world increased by almost a quarter since 2013

Europe runs largest cyber-security exercise to date

More than 200 cyber-security agencies, energy and telecoms companies, financial institution and Internet service providers have taken part in Cyber Europe 2014, the largest cyber-security exercise to have been run in Europe to date.

Organised by the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), the drill simulated 2,000 separate cyber incidents including denial of service attacks on online services, intelligence and media reports on cyber-attack operations, website defacements and attacks on critical national infrastructure including energy and telecommunication networks.

Testing Europe’s preparedness, cooperation and procedures, the exercises, involving over 400 cyber security experts, has been run simultaneously from multiple cyber research centres across Europe.

"The sophistication and volume of cyber-attacks are increasing every day,” said European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes. “They cannot be countered if individual states work alone or just a handful of them act together. I'm pleased that EU and EFTA Member States are working with the EU institutions with ENISA bringing them together. Only this kind of common effort will help keep today’s economy and society protected."

ENISA runs such pan-European simulations every two years. However, the 2014 exercise has been the most complex and the largest so far.

“Five years ago there were no procedures to drive cooperation during a cyber-crisis between EU Member States,” said executive director of ENISA, Professor Udo Helmbrecht. “Today we have the procedures in place collectively to mitigate a cyber-crisis on European level. The outcome of the exercise will tell us where we stand and identify the next steps to take in order to keep improving.”

According to ENISA’s Threat Landscape report (2013), the sophistication of attacks and complexity of the tools used by various cyber criminals or state-backed agents is steadily increasing. Multiple countries are known to have developed capabilities that can be used to infiltrate all kinds of targets, governmental and private in order to achieve their objectives.

In 2013, global web-based attacks increased by almost a quarter and the total number of data breaches was 61 per cent higher than 2012. Each of the eight top data breaches resulted in the loss of tens of millions of data records while 552 million identities were exposed. According to industry estimates cyber-crime and espionage accounted for between $300bn and $1tr in annual global losses in 2013.

ENISA will release results of the latest exercise in the upcoming months.

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