Europe's cybersecurity agency ENISA has raised concerns that a lack of information of the size and shape of the Internet infrastructure makes it vulnerable to attack. Meanwhile, the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union has warned that the Internet must be viewed as a "theatre of war."
A report published by the agency on the resilience of the Internet ecosystem, "the complex interconnected network layers that make up the Internet", said that it is vulnerable to technical failures, risks, cyberattacks and simultaneous disruptions.
Although this open and decentralised organisation has to date been essential for the success and resilience of the Internet, there is no central network operation centre, leading to confusion over reporting of cyberattacks and a lack of established best practice. The appropriate legislation is not in place and there is no generally accepted Internet code of conduct, according to the presidency.
"The stability of the Internet is critical for the economy of modern societies, therefore we must identify if the resilience mechanisms in place today will be effective also in future crises of tomorrow," said Udo Helmbrecht, executive director of ENISA. "A systemic failure of the Internet would cause significant problems for several sectors like energy, transport, finance, healthcare and the economy."
ENISA recommends that investigations into incidents such as attacks or outages should be conducted by an independent body. It says that key research is also needed in inter-domain routing, traffic engineering, traffic redirection and prioritisation, especially during a crisis.
"The current Internet is simply not able to provide the desired accuracy, resilience and safety. Even now, with around 1 billion sensors, we are unable to make proper use of all the data they generate. How much potential will be wasted once there are 50 billion connected sensors?" asked Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes.
"Efficient defence against similar threats not only calls for appropriate technical developments and highly qualified professionals, but also for extensive cooperation," said Hungary's Minister of Defense Csaba Hende.
The minister urged for a regular exchange of knowledge and experiences, both within the EU and in transatlantic relations. Measures are also required to appropriately prevent, detect and fend off cyberattacks, as is specified in the newly accepted strategic concept of NATO, he added.