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EU and US agree to run joint cyberwar exercise in 2011

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The EU and the US have agreed to work more closely on the fight against cyber-crime and in the promotion of cyber-security.

A meeting between EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmström, responsible for the fight against cybercrime, and US Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano agreed to run a joint EU-US cyber-incident exercise by the end of 2011.

The US has been running cyber-war security exercises for some years, while the EU held its first, Cyber Europe 2010, late last year. Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the digital agenda, who holds overall responsibility for the cyber-security agenda in the EU, also took part in the meeting that led to the agreement.

Senior government figures on both sides of the Atlantic also promised to share best practice, both between themselves and with private industry. Three key areas of particular concern were identified: fighting botnets, securing industrial control systems (such as water treatment and power generation), and enhancing the resilience and stability of the internet.

An EU statement on the meeting said that the EU and the US would move towards co-ordinating annual security awareness efforts; a welcome break from the mishmash of Internet Safety day this and Security Awareness month that which currently litters the calendar.

Ministers also agreed to work more closely with domain-name registrars and registries to more completely purge child abuse websites from the net, a topic that's likely to come up at a conference on child protection online in Silicon Valley that the government agreed to run before the end of the year.

Finally, EU ministers said that they wanted to persuade more countries to sign-up to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, including a programme to expand accession by all EU Member States as well as encouraging other countries outside the region to join. The Convention on Cybercrime is generally viewed as the gold standard for cyber-security and the investigation of cybercrime.

A total of 30 countries, mostly in Europe but including the US, have ratified the treaty. The UK has signed the treaty but is yet to ratify it, a status it shares with 15 other countries.

A further EU-US Summit on cyber security and cyber-crime is due to take place before the end of the year. This conference can be expected to include further updates from the EU-US Working Group on Cyber-Security and Cyber-Crime, which was established in November 2010. ®

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