European Commissioner Neelie Kroes gave a speech earlier this year in which she outlined the need for ‘digital capital for a connected continent’. Noting that ‘Europe lags behind while others take the digital dividend’, she identified three major challenges that currently face the union:
- The digital fragmentation of the European market.
Despite the acknowledged business advantages of the borderless European single market, disunited telecommunications services are causing business barriers of their own. The current fragmentation of the digital market is best demonstrated by the patchwork of information security legislation across the union: there are ‘28 different markets, 28 rulebooks, 28 referees, [and] 28 mindsets’. Digital roaming charges across Europe are prohibitively expensive. Broadband stops at borders.
- The need for a single approach to securing data across multiple countries.
Security cannot be guaranteed across the union: the implementation and enforcement of the European Data Protection Directive’s guidance varies from country to country. New legislation is needed to maintain the strength of the open network.
- A huge data skills gap.
Demand for ICT jobs is increasing at an unprecedented rate and there aren’t the skills to fill the gap; there could soon be ‘nearly one million unfilled vacancies’ according to Kroes, and if that situation continues ‘it could have catastrophic consequences for competitiveness.’
Countering the challenges
The European Commission has invested in numerous initiatives to counter these challenges.
The Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs aims to promote ICT training and education. The European Commissioner has provided an extra €85 million in funding in 2014 for online safety projects as part of the Horizon 2020 research programme.
New European legislation will address digital fragmentation by promoting a connected continent: the proposed General Data Protection Regulation aims to unify data protection laws across the union and the Network and Information Security Directive will improve cyber security in the EU.
As Kroes pointed out, ‘In just one year, over three quarters of small businesses, and 93% of large ones suffered cyber breaches. Each one could cost up to €50 million: not to mention the reputational damage. Protecting these assets is sound business sense.’
So how can you ensure your compliance with new data protection legislation and maintain the security of your digital assets?
The international Standard ISO27001 provides a best-practice framework that supports adherence to the EU data protection legislation because of its holistic focus on people, process and technology. Download our free green paper, Information Security and ISO27001, to find out more.