Defending Europe against cyber attack

Another of the three year programmes was to strengthen the resilience of European networks. With modern society becoming increasingly dynamic and competitive, ENISA considered network outages as one of the biggest challenges to business critical applications.

Pirotti said in ENISA's last quarterly review: "Public institutions, citizens and businesses all demand an acceptable level of service in the networks, with resilience to faults and challenges to their normal operation."

ENISA said that when it came to network security, it had to be honest some member states in Europe were better equipped than others. Rather than think of it as a negative, however, it was looked upon as an opportunity.

There was already some information sharing between countries but more on an ad hoc basis, which usually involved coincidence or a cultural proximity. One of ENISA's jobs was to make sure that countries shared information in a much more regular and structured way.

De Bruin said: "The way we do that is by brokering member states between those who have a need and those who could possibly help."

This was a big challenge, as there were the complexities as well as policy differences when it came from working with a range of European countries. It was also not always transparent, with national business infrastructures changing day to day.

De Bruin said of the network complexity: "It not like an energy grid or water supply that is stable. The internet is dynamic by nature, and that makes it complicated."

Defending against cyber attacks

European businesses needed a strong network for many reasons, but also to counter the threat of cyber attacks. The 2007 Estonian cyber attack made Europe sit up and realise that a well-timed or well-aimed attack had the potential to completely cripple a network and a country's entire business infrastructure.

By 2010, ENISA hoped to have half of the European member states making use of ENISA networking recommendations that will affect their policy making. ENISA was in the process of working towards this target by working with national regulators, operators and technology vendors who are all play a part in offering Europe resilient technologies.

"This is a programme which has raised high attention with the EU member states," said De Bruin. "Also with the states that are already very well equipped, as they strongly believe that this is a something which cannot be solved simply on a national level and needs a European effort on top of it."

Importantly, ENISA was independent and trusted which meant that the European member states could rely on it to be fair on all the countries that it was trying to bring together. Competition and cultural difference was an obvious problem when member states had tried to work together previously.