EU leaders agreed at a summit on Thursday (18 October) to impose sanctions to stiffen their response to cyber attacks and to rush through new curbs on online campaigning by political parties to protect next year’s European election from interference. In the conclusions of the European Council meeting, EU leaders agreed that the new measures to tackle cybersecurity, disinformation and data manipulation “deserve rapid examination and operational follow-up”. They called for “measures to combat cyber and cyber-enabled illegal and malicious activities” and to “work on the capacity to respond to and deter cyber-attacks through EU restrictive measures should be taken forward, further to the 19 June 2017 Council conclusions.” Negotiations on running proposals are meant to be concluded by the end of the legislative term next year.
The will to consider sanctions against cybercrime perpetrators has emerged after a report from the Dutch intelligence services in partnership with the UK that a range of cyberattacks was carried out by the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, on various sectors ranging from sport to transport and the 2016 US presidential election.
On Wednesday (17 October), a report by researchers at Slovakia-based ESET uncovered the latest interference, with hackers infecting three energy and transport companies in Ukraine and Poland, using sophisticated malware.