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Telefónica joins board of €1.8bn pan-European cyber security project

Information safety

Telefónica has become the only telecoms operator to join the board of the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO), a continent-wide initiative to advance R&D efforts in the cyber security space.

The ECSO is a contractual Public-Private Partnership (cPPP) joint research initiative between the European Commission and companies in the ICT and cyber security sector targeting advances in research and solutions around the area. To do so, the ECSO is looking to trigger up to €1.8 billion of investment between now and 2020 into different areas of research into cyber security.

For the European Commission, cyber security is a big hurdle in its mission of achieving its Digital Single Market strategy; and it says failure to keep up with the constantly evolving digital security threat will end up harming consumer confidence in technology, but also the entire ICT sector and overarching digital economy.

Within the ECSO, Telefónica says it hopes to extend its vision of a comprehensive and balanced cyber security strategy which keeps apace with the rate of change seen in the industry while making sure privacy rights are respected on an individual and societal level.

“We have to move on from isolated security solutions focused on asset protection to solutions capable of analysing the information of devices, networks, technological equipment and users, combining it with external intelligence on vulnerabilities threats and other agents,” said Pedro Pablo Pérez, Telefónica’s Global Security Managing Director and representative on the ECSO board. “Trust between industry and the public administrations of the member states is essential for the effective implementation of this approach and, in this sense, the role to be played by the cPPP is vital.”

Telefónica points to the forthcoming explosion of traffic as a result from IoT as a reason for its presence on the ECSO board. Because traffic generated by IoT presents an abundance of new and potential points of entry to the network, Telefónica says total coordination between everyone in the ICT industry even more necessary. It’s also planning on creating an open cyber security standard as part of its participation, which it claims will put an end to the threat posed by the fragmentation of current security systems.

Telecoms operators such as BT and TIM are also involved with ECSO, but none have been appointed to the board until now. With operators moving to the absolute core of digital networking and services in the 21st century, their importance in securing network infrastructure cannot be understated. With that in mind, one wonders why it is only now that any form of telecoms service provider has been appointed to the decision-making board.

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