Symantec, EC team up against cyberattacks

The European Commission (EC) has awarded Symantec a grant to create a framework for sharing information on security at a national and European level.

The funding will go towards defining an Information Assurance Messaging Standard', which will allow European critical infrastructures, national authorities and the EC to exchange secure messages about security threats and good practice.

Andrea Rigono, the head of Symantec's EU and European critical infrastructure protection consulting, said that despite the EC and European Union addressing the protection of critical infrastructure as far back in 2004, there is no universally-accepted standard.

"Currently there are only informal or mutual agreements between authorities and member states. Symantec had the idea to define a standard to allow national authorities and member states to exchange messages on vulnerabilities, threats and good practices."

The EC has established a European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection (EPCIP) as part of its "Fight against Crime and Terrorism" campaign. Every year, the Commission provides grants to fund pilot projects to enhance cooperation among the European critical infrastructures and raise the awareness on vulnerabilities, risks and countermeasures.

This new project with Symantec will see the direct involvement of many member states and National Computer Emergency Response and Readiness Teams (CERTs).

The project is expected to be rolled out in three phases. First, Symantec will make an analysis of existing standards and interviews with a select number of CERTs and national authorities. It will then aim to create a definition of the standard.

Once this has been completed, Symantec will curate two European conferences in Italy and Brussels where the results of their findings will be present to the EC, National CERTS, as well as delegates of the member states and to national security authorities.

The project - which will be 70 per cent funded by the EC and 30 per cent by Symantec - has a market value of 791,000, but is expected to cost more over the cost of the project, which will be completed in early 2009.