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Individual articles written by SECURITY EUROPE

With the IS in tatters, will radicalisation rise in Europe’s prisons?

By BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS – Now that the Islamic State’s territory in the Middle East has been abolished, Europe faces obvious threats from foreign fighters (FFs) returning from jihadist-oriented conflicts. One of the big knock-on effects will be the impact on radicalisation in Europe’s prisons. With national capitals due to transpose by September 2018 a new EU directive that criminalises FF participation in wars and attempts to travel to them, the size of Europe’s radicalised prison population is bound to grow. Despite buckets of EU money thrown at the problem during the last 10 years, however, Europe has done a poor job at staunching prison radicalisation, whether at national, regional or local level because no one has yet hit on an airtight counter-radicalisation formula. There are still too many unknowns for determining when someone has passed from an attraction to radicalisation to the intent to deploy violence. It doesn’t help matters that there is lingering reluctance in some political circles to publicly call a spade a spade, namely that...

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Horizon 2020 programme throws cash at cybersecurity-related security projects, hoping something will stick to the Dark Web

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, with BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS – Among the measures included in European Commission’s cybersecurity package, adopted on 13 September 2017, is the goal of transforming the European Union Agency for Information Security (ENISA) into a new cybersecurity agency. The Commission is also pushing researchers to study new ways to tackle Europe’s burgeoning cybercrime threats. The need is great, to say the least. According to the EU, ransomware attacks increased by 300 per cent between 2015 and 2017, and may increase four-fold again by 2019. One of the workshops during the 6 December meeting of the Commission’s “Community of Users” (CoU) of security research stakeholders (see related article in this issue) focused on cybercrime, several related research projects and the eye-raising statistics that confront authorities in their efforts to combat it. As Michele Socco of the Commission’s home affairs directorate-generale (DG HOME) told the workshop, “65 percent of digital evidence is...

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Security research ‘community of users’ marks new approach

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – On 5-6 December, security research policymakers and practitioners gathered for the latest meeting of the European Commission-sponsored “Community of Users (CoU) involved in EU-funded security research. The CoU seeks to unify the fragmented landscape of the research sector by encouraging collaboration between researchers, industry and practitioners such as emergency first-responders and border-control officers. Andrea De Candido, deputy head of unit for security research at the Commission’s home affairs directorate-general (DG HOME), told the conference that 2018 “will be the next step of evolution. Our meetings – more thematic and more tailored to the users – will allow better exchanges of information” between researchers, practitioners and policymakers and thus a more tailored approach to a specific user’s needs. “Research cannot be seen as a stand-alone effort,” he said. “It only makes sense if it’s inserted into a broader picture of a capability-driven approach to security research.” Connecting research with practitioners demands looking ahead, he said. “Some capability packages are directly tied to technologies that need to be available,” he said. “We are drawing line between what we have today and what we will have 10 years from now.” CoU’s organisers always use the occasion to showcase the latest research results. Several ongoing projects presented their status reports and two stood out from the rest. The first, known as...

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Draft EU proposal to control exports of dual-use surveillance software and related products now shifts to Council for debate

By BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS – After years of hesitation about how to regulate its commerce, the EU is preparing to clamp down on exports of cyber-surveillance products and other high-end digital technologies to prevent their use for repressive ends or as re-export to banned third countries. A new vote on 17 January by the European Parliament now moves the EU one step closer to this goal. In its amendments to a Commission proposal, the EP has considerably tightened some of its terminology and thrust, while throwing its full weight behind the proposal’s inclusion of a human rights (HR) “catch-all” clause – essentially a yardstick by which the human rights credentials of the importing country must be assessed by the exporting EU member state. “The HR clause allows each member state to define new items and, if no opposition from other [EU members], it will apply to all,” Klaus Buchner, German Green member of the European Parliament who led the amendments, told reporters prior to the vote. However, this and other hoped-for changes approved by the EP during plenary vote suffer a potentially fatal structural flaw in that..

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‘Nuggets’ seeks to ensure online security by keeping it in-hand

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – In October, the US-based credit reporting agency Equifax revealed that hackers had penetrated the company’s databases and stolen the private information of over 145 million people. Looted identity data included the “big four” personal security identifiers of name, address, birth date, and social security numbers. These four identifiers together constitute the basis for most personal consumer transactions, online or off. According to the Chicago Tribune, cyber-criminals have already begun using the stolen info to take out credit cards, mortgages, and student loans. Many now wonder if keeping such vital personal data inside vast corporate ‘silos’ is a good idea in the first place. Shouldn’t consumers make purchases, or take out loans, without allowing companies to hold on to their personal data? One company hopes to change the way that consumers interact with online retailers by using...

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The liberal pushback (hopefully) begins: boosting the rule of law

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – The rule of law in the European Union is in danger. That was the message from “The State of Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights in the EU,” a seminar held in the European Parliament on 9 January. Hosted by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), the seminar featured chilling stories of EU-wide corruption and media repression. In particular, Polish government efforts to politicise its judiciary have provoked great alarm among EU leaders, particularly among MEPs. The seminar’s main take-away...

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While illegal border crossings into the EU are down from record 2015 highs, the United Nations seeks a global pact on migration

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, reported this month that its detections of illegal border crossings into the European Union dropped 60 percent in 2017 compared with 2016, to some 204,300 persons. By contract, in 2015 over 1.8 million persons crossed illegally, with nearly 90 percent coming either by sea through the Eastern Mediterranean or over land through the Western Balkans. The 2017 figure is still high by historical standards. Between 2009 and 2014, according to Frontex, illegal border crossings averaged nearly...

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NATO and the United States need to get their act together on AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is coming to the battlefield – and it is poised to be a revolution not only in military affairs, but in human affairs.” Indeed, militaries will win or lose, and economies will prosper or perish, based on a nation’s capacity to harness advanced, synthetic decision-making technology.

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Update on tenders and calls-for-proposals in EU security (17/01/2018)

1. Study on opportunity and feasibility of an EU blockchain infrastructure The EU Commission is looking carefully at blockchain developments with the objective of setting the right conditions for the advent of an open, innovative, trustworthy, transparent, and EU law compliant data and transactional environment. This feasibility study will be carried out to assess the opportunity, benefits, and challenges of …

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