EU officials reportedly planning mock cyberattack amid security concerns

A security expert has warned that "pretty much everything that is controlled by computer can be attacked"

EU officials reportedly planning mock cyberattack amid security concerns

File photo. Picture by John Minchillo AP/Press Association Images

European security chiefs are reportedly planning a mock cyberattack to test countries' defence skills.

The Irish Times reports so-called 'war game' later this year is said to be in preparation for potential cyberattacks against multiple member states.

The plans come amid warnings that transport networks, like planes and trains, are particularly vulnerable.

The Times says that it has seen a European Commission paper which claims Russia could interfere in the upcoming French and German elections.

Urban Schrott, Cyber Crime Analyst and communication manager with ESET Ireland, spoke to Pat Kenny about the risk.

"The way I see it is pretty much everything that is controlled by computer - whether it's the transport grid, the electricity grid or anything else - can be attacked," he argued.

"It really depends on which sort of infrastructure is targeted and why, and with which purpose in mind."

He added: "If we're talking about state-sponsored attacks which would want to cause each other harm, there are various levels of attacks that could happen. On the other hand, we could also be looking at financial motivated attacks by cyber criminals."

Last week, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned of the risk of cyberattacks against the country, suggesting "we should not be naive" about the possibility.

He suggested that around 24,000 attempted attacks against his ministry had been blocked last year alone.

The European Commission has reported that there were a total of 110 separate attempts to hack its servers in 2016

It comes after US intelligence agencies accused Russia of being behind cyberattacks on US organisations - including the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign - in the run up to last year's election.

The allegations led to the US imposing sanctions on Russia and expelling a number of diplomats late last month. Russia has repeatedly denied the accusations.

Julian King - former British Ambassador to Ireland and current EU security commissioner - told the Financial Times earlier this month: “It’s clear that many institutions across Europe and more widely, and that includes the European Commission, are subject to a continuously increasing number of cyber attacks from different sources."

He added that the attempted attacks are persistent, aggressive, and "more and more dangerous".