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UK fails to make top 10 list for most cyber secure country in Europe

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The UK government may invest heavily in cybersecurity, having formed the National Cyber Security Centre in 2016, but that doesn’t mean we’re more secure than many other countries in Europe. In fact, according to a report by Specops Software, the UK failed to make the top 10. 

Specops Software calculated which country is most likely to encounter cyber-crimes by analysing the percentage of cloud provider attacks on Azure and the monthly percentage of machines that encountered cryptocurrency mining, malware and ransomware.

In the Gov.uk 2019 Cybersecurity Breaches Survey, it was discovered that a whopping 32% of businesses in the UK identified breaches or attacks during 2019, so using information from the Microsoft intelligence report, whose research team ‘checks billions of credentials obtained from different breaches’, Specops was eager to explore which country in Europe has the highest cyber-crime levels.

It found that the most cyber secure countries were as follows: 

 

  • Ireland
  • Norway
  • Denmark
  • Switzerland
  • Iceland
  • Sweden
  • Belgium
  • Luxembourg
  • Czechia
  • Finland

 

While the most cyber insecure was: 

 

  • Netherlands
  • Bulgaria
  • Belarus
  • Ukraine
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Lithuania
  • Romania
  • France
  • Hungary
  • Croatia

 

The results show that the Netherlands were the most vulnerable European country, with the highest rate of cybercrime. This could be due to the large number of cloud provider incoming attacks (16.28%) to Microsoft Azure accounts in their country.

Next is Bulgaria, who have experienced 17.55% incoming cloud attacks/encounters. In third place is Belarus who had 10.83%, fourth is Ukraine with 10.35% and fifth is Bosnia with 7.06%.

The United Kingdom ranks 17th, due to their high number of cloud attack encounters in comparison to other European countries. 

Ireland is the least vulnerable country in Europe, where they had the lowest cybercrime encounter rate in every category, except from cloud provider attacks – where there were a recorded 0.36% of Azure accounts who faced incoming attacks.

The counties most likely to encounter cloud attacks:

 

  • Netherlands
  • Bulgaria
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Lithuania
  • Italy
  • Poland

 

The Netherlands received the highest number of cloud provider related incoming attacks, with data stating that 16.28% of Azure accounts have faced breaches between January 2019 and October 2019. They were followed closely by Bulgaria (11.68%).

Other countries with a high number of cloud attack encounters were France (2.73%), United Kingdom (2.02%) and Finland (1.72%).

Accounts in Luxembourg, Slovakia, Estonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were not targeted by attackers seeking to compromise and weaponise virtual machines and other resources. They were estimated to have the lowest number of cloud provider related incoming attacks detected by Azure’s Security Centre.

The countries most likely to encounter cryptocurrency mining encounters:

 

  • Belarus
  • Ukraine
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Serbia
  • Bulgaria
  • Romania
  • Lithuania
  • Croatia
  • Hungary
  • Latvia

 

On average, Belarus has the highest number of cryptocurrency mining encounters every month, with 0.42% of machines recording the issue, totalling to hundreds of thousands of machines in the country. Next is Ukraine (0.33%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (0.25%) and Bulgaria.

The least vulnerable country is Ireland, where only 0.01% of machines encountered cryptocurrency mining. The United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Germany and Netherlands are the second least likely to encounter cryptocurrency mining, as only 0.02% of machines in each country had.

The countries most likely to encounter malware:

 

  • Belarus
  • Ukraine
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Romania
  • Bulgaria
  • Lithuania
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Spain
  • Greece

 

Belarus had the most malware encounters in Europe, with 10.17% of machines in the country encountering them every month on average.  In second place is Ukraine (9.57%), followed by Bosnia (6.76%), Romania (5.92%), and Bulgaria (5.66%).

The country with the least malware encounters is Ireland where only 0.7% of machines in the country encountered malware every month on average. Finland (1.27%), Norway (1.33%), Netherlands (1.33%) and Denmark (1.35%) were among the other countries least vulnerable to malware encounters.

The countries most likely to encounter ransomware:

 

  • Ukraine
  • Belarus
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Romania
  • Bulgaria
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Greece
  • Croatia
  • Lithuania

 

0.09% of machines in Ukraine encountered malware encounters on average every month, making them the most insecure to malware in Europe.  Belarus were second most vulnerable, with 0.06% of machines encountering malware, followed by Bosnia (0.05%), Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Greece and Croatia (0.04%).

Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway and Finland encountered the smallest number of ransomware threats, with only 0.01% of machines coming across them every month.

With the risk of cyber-crime high in many European countries, Aimée Ravacon from Specops Software has suggested three distinct tips to reduce your risk of attacks:

  1. Stop reusing passwords. When you reuse your passwords, you are opening yourself up to cyber-crime since attackers use your login information from one site to target another site. 
  2. Use multi-factor authentication. Many online services now offer multi-factor authentication, but too few people are taking advantage of this extra security layer. This simple step just takes a minute but can protect you from falling victim. 
  3. Don’t click on strange links. Phishing emails are designed to look real and can even appear to come from people you know. But clicking on links in a phishing email can open a backdoor for an attacker.
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