Blog post

European cybersecurity and data privacy:
Threats and prospects

  1. Threats associated with cybersecurity and data privacy in Europe
  • Digitization of critical infrastructure

Critical infrastructure across Europe has been undergoing a ‘digital revolution’. While the nature of this revolution is complex, mechanical and analogue processes are gradually being replaced by computer software and digital technologies. Globalized competition and interconnections between firms or entities across different sectors have enhanced pressure to accelerate digitization. The imperative to rationalize production, consumption and distribution processes, the requirement to rapidly transfer information and data over long distances, along with a need to enhance internal communications between management sites and infrastructure have hastened the transition. Most infrastructure essential for the functioning of society is included: vital sectors such as the water supply, healthcare, transportation, communications, energy, along with key aspects of the economy and services and security assets (police/military).

A variety of different types of digital systems have been relied upon in Europe, adapted to the specificities of each sector. This includes, for example, ‘industrial control systems’ (ICS) and ‘supervisory control and data acquisition systems’ (SCADA) for many industry-related fields, which enable the remote handling of equipment. This has contributed to optimizing the whole supply chain, providing a wider selection of tailored goods and services, with real time data from computer systems enabling the development of consumer profiles. These elements have considerably expanded the margins of manoeuvre for companies to enhance profits. Public sector entities have also benefitted from improved efficiency and rationalization. While offering many benefits, however, the ‘digital revolution’ is two-sided, since it has also generated acute new risks and threats in terms of cybersecurity and data privacy.

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Recommended citation:

Barichella A. 2022. “European cybersecurity and data privacy: Threats and prospects”, Policy brief, Jacques Delors Institute, 2 March.