The first pan-European virtual centre for real-time dynamic cyber risk management has reached full operational capability, its co-developer, Italy’s Leonardo, announced on 3 October 2023.
The virtual centre has been developed by an industrial consortium comprising Leonardo and Indra for the European Commission’s Directorate General for Communication Networks, Content and Technologies (DG Connect). Its opening, part of a project worth EUR 18 M overall, precedes the opening of a physical centre in Brussels.
The centre processes and analyses terabytes of data from sources including websites, media, social media, databases, and the deep/dark web. This is underpinned by a knowledge base consisting of more than five million ‘indicators of compromise’: digital traces of computer incidents that are managed each year by Leonardo via the company’s supercomputing infrastructure, which is capable of up to five million billion operations per second.
Using this information the centre produces sectoral threat scenarios (related to finance, energy, health, transport etc) for DG Connect. This allows the European Commission to continuously monitor the level of cyber attack risk against European digital infrastructure, highlighting possible threat actors, likely modes of attack, potential targets and their vulnerabilities. This makes it possible to dynamically calculate the impact of potential attacks on critical infrastructure and services of strategic interest, supporting greater European cyber resilience.
Research by Leonardo analysts has found that the most widespread offensive cyber techniques (ransomware, distributed denial-of-service attacks, wipers, phishing and disinformation campaigns) increased by an average of 180% in 2022 compared to 2021, making cyber resilience an ever-pressing requirement.
At the same time a side effect of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022 has seen Europe become more of a target for hybrid threats, which combine multiple techniques and different actors. These can cause serious repercussions, sometimes to national security.
The establishment of a physical cyber risk management centre in Brussels will enable the Commission to work directly on the cyber threat. The physical infrastructure will also be supported by Leonardo’s Regional Centre in Brussels, part of the company’s Global Security Operation Centre. With a distributed architecture based at a head office in Chieti, Italy, and incorporating other operational centres in Italy, the UK and other locations in Europe and the Middle East, Leonardo’s Global Security Operations Centre manages over 137,000 cyber-security events per second. To ensure full risk awareness and improve Europe’s response to cyber crises, the centre will be interoperable with all entities at a European level that are responsible for cyber threat analysis.
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