The future of data protection and IT security could be handled collectively by users from around the world, as the European Union announces plans to look into using crowd sourcing techniques to develop defences over the coming years.
In essence, the proposal made by Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, is the first step towards the creation of a central body to which anyone will be able to report cybercrimes, scams, hacks and security issues.
Members of the public would be granted a direct line to law enforcement authorities via which they will be able to blow the whistle on any malicious activities which they encounter.
By sourcing information from a vast pool of end users, the EU will be able to get a broader look at the way data protection and IT security are being handled and exploited across the continent, according to Mr Wainwright.
The responses to Mr Wainwright’s plans have been mixed. One expert pointed out that while getting the public involved in crime fighting could hardly be called a new idea, it is definitely a positive step towards a better understanding of cybercriminal activities.
Others have raised concerns over whether or not the tools offered to the public will be used effectively. It is thought that a great deal of training and education will be required before average web users will be able to make reports to such a central system that have any value in the fight against terrorists and criminals who operate in cyberspace.
Security expert Alan Bentley said that thanks to the prevalence of botnets and the scandal surrounding Wikileaks, there is a greater public awareness of the risks posed to data and IT security, along with a finer understanding of how criminals can exploit flaws.
Mr Bentley believes that people need to appreciate the types of techniques which are used by hackers and cybercriminals in order to be better equipped to detect and report their activities to any EU organisation in the future.