Fear of cybercrime is preventing as many as 150 million Europeans from using the internet, according to Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes.
Kroes made the comments on Thursday as she announced plans to strengthen and modernise the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), one of the EU agencies that tackles cyberthreats. ENISA acts as a coordinator between those who work on maintaining the security of networks and the judiciary, police and data protection authorities.
The organisation's mandate has been extended to 2017, allowing it to develop a cyberalert system in Europe. The proposals also envisage the establishment of a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).
"We have to be also prepared for the worst," said Kroes. "If we want our digital markets to grow, users need to feel comfortable spending online. If companies are to take advantage of all the potential benefits of 'cloud computing', they need to know their business secrets will not be intercepted. If we want to exploit the amazing potential of e-health, people need to know their medical information is as safe online as it is offline."
In 2008 the World Economic Forum said that there is a 10 percent to 20 percent chance that a major critical information infrastructure breakdown could cost the world US$250 billion.
The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers must vote to adopt the new security proposals before they can enter into force.