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The Week Ahead Europe: Europol tackles smart home security

With 5G poised to open the data exchange floodgates, Europol and the EU's top cybersecurity agency are meeting Oct. 24-25 to discuss threats to internet of things products.

The technology includes ubiquitous smart home devices such as Inc.'s popular Echo smart speaker range, Alphabet Inc. unit Nest's connected thermostats, and beleaguered Chinese firm Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.'s broadband routers.

The proliferation of these types of electronics and the increased data they will soon be sharing across faster 5G networks has European regulators and law enforcement worried.

In a bid to play catch-up, the EU passed the Cybersecurity Act in June. The new measures include the development of a cybersecurity certification framework for ICT products and services under the auspices of a bolstered EU Agency for Cybersecurity, or ENISA — which is co-chairing the event alongside Europol.

The agency is also tasked with creating closer security ties among EU member states. Though the U.K. is set to leave Europe, it agreed to share data pertaining to cyberthreats with Brussels, including the origins of identified attacks, as part of a revised deal.

Like its European neighbors, the U.K. is also racing to keep connected devices secure. The country proposed new laws aimed at the IoT industry earlier this year, among them a labeling scheme designed to rate the safety of smart home devices.

European countries have so far resisted U.S. pressure to lock China's Huawei — the world's leading mobile equipment maker — out of their respective 5G networks. The White House has accused the Chinese tech behemoth of spying on behalf of China's Community Party — a charge the company denies.

Europol warned in July that the "vulnerability" of IoT devices could leave them exposed to "criminals" looking to steal personal data and "spy on people and organizations."

At the invite-only event, stakeholders including cybercrime units, regulators and tech industry representatives will elaborate on their research into established smart home devices and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence.


Oct. 21

EU officials are meeting in Helsinki to discuss how best to use data to collaborate on emerging technologies across the fields of healthcare and science.

Oct. 21-23

Staying in the Finnish capital, the EU's designated body for SMEs, the Enterprise Europe Network, is holding an event on digitalization including how smaller businesses can utilize AI.

Oct. 23

Helsinki is also playing host to an EU-led conference on "hybrid threats" to Europe and transatlantic security such as online disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks.

Oct. 24-25

Europol and ENISA are holding an invite-only conference with IoT stakeholders to discuss how best to strengthen smart home and AI security.

United Kingdom

Oct. 23

MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee are holding a hearing on the future of English cricket, with pay TV broadcasting rights likely to be a hot topic.

Oct. 24

Deadline for interested parties to submit comments to the government regarding the takeover of Inmarsat by Connect Bidco. The bidder has committed to maintaining Inmarsat's U.K. registration and to implement controls to protect sensitive information.

Stories of note:

EC approves Infineon's acquisition of US chipmaker Cypress

Telefónica's O2 launches 5G in 6 UK cities

UK, EU deal includes close cooperation on data protection, cybersecurity

EU orders Broadcom to halt exclusivity deals amid antitrust probe

Full-fiber broadband not only answer to UK connectivity plans, MP says