Coordinated attacks against Estonia's computer systems earlier this month have been cited as one of the many reasons why the European Union countries should work more closely to fight cybercrime, according to European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs Franco Frattini.
Similarly, the existence of two known criminal gangs operating in the EU and believed to have clocked up profits in excess of £50m each from Internet fraud is another reason the European Commission - the EU's executive body - has decided to take action, the commissioner said.
Estonia was temporarily crippled by the attack, which Estonian ministers said ere traced to Russian government servers.
The development of the Internet and other information systems has opened many new possibilities for criminals, the Commission said in a statement issued Tuesday.
"Legislation and operational law enforcement have obvious difficulties in keeping pace," it said. The Commission added that the cross-border character of these threats "further underlines the need for strengthened international cooperation and coordination," not only among national authorities but with countries outside the EU.
The Commission will host a cybercrime conference in Brussels in November. "The aim, simply, is the eradication of cybercrime," Frattini said.
"In Estonia there were 128 separate attacks during the first two weeks of May," Frattini said. "These were coordinated attacks against a state -- not just a ministry. In situations like this we need to cooperate and we need to develop a strategy for prevention," he added.
The EU has invited NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to help Estonia rebuild its damaged information infrastructure and protect it against further attacks, the commissioner said.
The two Internet fraud gangs are under investigation in the UK and in other E.U. countries but lack of cooperation among authorities in different countries is hampering the probes, Frattini said. He declined to name the other countries involved in the investigations.
In addition to fraud, European Internet users are also exposed to child pornography and terrorism, he added.