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Friday, February 28, 2014
Europe To Invest Millions In Online Safety Projects

The European Commision (EC) will be investing at least €500 million in projects dealing with cyber-security and online privacy under a new research & innovation programme, Horizon 2020.

The Commission is seeking to develop trustworthy ICT solutions guaranteeing a secure and reliable digital environment in Europe. Horizon 2020 addresses security, trust and privacy in a coherent way from technological, economic, legal and social perspectives.

EC has invested at least €350 million in this field, and said that €85 million would be available this year.

The projects tackle various challenges, from ensuring that you can use applications anonymously to guaranteeing that the components of your smartphone are genuine.

Here are 6 European projects already helping to improve trust & security online.

- Secure social network & anonymous course evaluation. Pupils of Norrtullskolan secondary school in Soderhamn, Sweden, can exchange information online and discuss with a counsellor or a nurse while their privacy is protected via an anonymous authentication. In Greece, at the University of Athens, students can give their feedback on a course knowing they cannot be identified. At the same time, the university is able to confirm that a student is eligible to participate. These pilot applications allowing youngsters to express themselves freely are made possible by ABC4Trust. This project works on Attribute-based Credentials (ABC) which allow a holder to reveal just the minimal information required by an application, without giving away full identity information.

- Protection of mobile devices from Internet threats is usually achieved by installing appropriate tools (e.g. anti-virus, personal firewall, parental control) on each device. However, this poses several issues: users need to have access to all devices which need protection, appropriate protection tools may not exist on all the platforms or their capabilities may vary greatly across the different devices, and tools may consume too many resources. The SECURED project proposes an architecture to achieve protection by offloading execution of security applications into a programmable device at the edge of the network, such as a home gateway or an enterprise router. So that all the mobile devices used in a company or in a house can be easily protected from online threats.

- There are growing concerns about counterfeiting or cloning of hardware components and the threat of "Hardware Trojans" or hidden functions in integrated circuits. The HINT project addresses these challenges with novel technologies to guarantee that a hardware system is a genuine and non-modified one.

- The PCAS project is developing a Secured Personal Device (SPD) which will allow users to securely store their data and share them with trusted applications. The SPD will recognise its user using multiple biometric sensors, including a stress level sensor to detect coercion. Using the same biometric authentication, the SPD will be able to enforce secure communication with servers in the cloud, relieving the user from memorising passwords. The SPD will take the form of a smartphone add-on that draws power from the smartphone and uses its communication services.

- The Trust in Digital Life (TDL) community, formed by institutes, considers that trustworthy ICT solutions must become a commodity enforced by citizens and law. TDL community encourages the industry to develop affordable technologies, enabling consumers and enterprises to judge for themselves if their devices, applications and services are trustworthy enough to protect them from Internet threats.

- The European Advanced Cyber Defence Centre (ACDC) is a pilot project whose aim is to set up a European "Advanced Cyber Defence Centre" to fight botnets. With 28 partners from 14 countries, ACDC sets up a central data clearing house and provides a complete set of solutions accessible online for mitigating on-going attacks. This network fosters sharing of information across Europe's Member States to improve the early detection of botnets and creates an open community of knowledge in the field of cybersecurity.

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