The European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) opens today at the European Police Office in the Hague.
Intended to help protect European citizens and businesses from cyber crime, it will pool expertise and information, support criminal investigations and promote EU-wide solutions.
Its main focus will be on illegal online activities carried out by organised crime groups, especially attacks targeting e-banking and other online financial activities, online child sexual exploitation and those crimes that affect the critical infrastructure and information systems in the EU.
The centre will conduct research and development and produce threat assessments, trend analyses, forecasts and early warnings. It will also provide a cyber crime help desk for EU countries' law enforcement units and offer operational support to EU countries and deliver high-level technical, analytical and forensic expertise in EU joint investigations.
There will be 40 full-time staff by the end of the year who will work to support anti-cyber crime efforts in EU countries.
EU Commissioner for home affairs, Cecilia Malmström, said: “The Cybercrime Centre will give a strong boost to the EU's capacity to fight cyber crime and defend an internet that is free, open and secure.
“Cyber criminals are smart and quick in using new technologies for criminal purposes; the EC3 will help us become even smarter and quicker to help prevent and fight their crimes.”
Troels Oerting, head of the European Cybercrime Centre, said: “In combating cyber crime, with its borderless nature and huge ability for the criminals to hide, we need a flexible and adequate response.
“The European Cybercrime Centre is designed to deliver this expertise as a fusion centre, as a centre for operational investigative and forensic support, but also through its ability to mobilise all relevant resources in EU Member States to mitigate and reduce the threat from cyber criminals wherever they operate from.”
The concept of the centre was first proposed in the European Commission's 2010 Internal Security Strategy, and established last March. The plans were reaffirmed by UK foreign secretary William Hague last October, when he said that the centre will receive £2 million of annual funding from the UK government.