EU member states have agreed to develop a cyber-response force designed to combat future attacks, according to the Lithuanian government.
A Declaration of Intent proposed by the Baltic state at a session of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on Monday was signed by five other countries: Romania, Croatia, Estonia, the Netherlands and Spain. Four more are said to be ready to sign by the end of the year.
The response force would be comprised of investigation specialists and others from the security institutions of participating countries, rotating twice a year.
“In reality it would look like this: each participant would need to have a standing cybersecurity unit which could join the neutralization and investigation in virtual or even in physical reality in the event of a significant cyber-incident,” said national defense minister, Raimundas Karoblis.
“EU countries have not had the opportunity to address cyber-incidents together so far, and in the meanwhile, the attacks are not limited by country borders. Lithuania has taken up the role of leadership in proposing first a practical solution in strengthening collective defense in cyberspace and countering threats in a new dimension.”
Figures from the Lithuanian National Cyber Security Center reportedly reveal a growth in cyber-attacks of 10% annually.
Alongside those countries already signed up, France and Finland are also participants of the project while Belgium, Germany, Greece and Slovenia are observers.
The first joint exercise is expected to take place later this year in Lithuania.
There is no mention of the UK, which is not surprising given its decision to leave the EU. However, British security experts will be concerned at the growing isolation of the country, which could leave it more exposed to online threats.
Europol boss Rob Wainright confirmed in March that the UK will no longer receive high quality information from the pan-regional law enforcement agency.