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U.K. firms ahead of their E.U. counterparts in cybersecurity protection

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September 22, 2015

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The initial analysis of the European cybercrime scene that was recently revealed suggests a growing concern about the security threats from targeted attacks.

However, it appears at first glance that British firms are ahead of their European counterparts in terms of cyber security protection measures, at least for now.

The research, commissioned by Trend Micro to better understand the security market in Europe, and conducted by the market analysis firm Quocirca, focused on targeted attacks rather than random malware issues.

Overall, the report suggests that of the 500 businesses questioned, all with more than 2,500 employees, most do believe that targeted attacks have increased over the last year.

As can be expected, various concerns about cyber crime have risen a lot since, and they become especially prevalent among British businesses since 2013, when only about 26.3 percent of Blighty's enterprises believed targeted attacks were inevitable.

That number has now risen to over 72 percent, with a further 21 percent now considering targeted attacks a real concern, even if disputing their inevitability.

In the last fifty-two weeks, British businesses detected 8.6 targeted attacks on average. This is significantly higher than the 6.2 attacks detected across Europe as a whole, even including Britain.

That a higher number of targeted attacks were detected across Europe by the financial services and IT sectors suggests that detection may correlate more closely with the maturity of the sector's cyber readiness, rather than be representative of the threat landscape as a whole.

Bob Tarzey, analyst and director at Quocirca, and Rik Ferguson, vice president of Security Research at Trend Micro, suggested that the data, which includes organizations who believe they had never been attacked before, might not necessarily preclude British-based firms genuinely being targeted more than those on the continent.

While organizations in the United Kingdom have reported a higher average number of attacks, fewer are certain that they have been targeted in the first place.

Some eighteen percent of British firms still believe they haven't been targeted at all, a number which Tarzey was highly skeptical.

Those numbers, which are all consistently given as a percentage of the total set of enterprises questioned, suggest that about 27 percent of definite targeted attacks were successful, a significantly lower percentage than attacks across Europe as a whole.

About 24.1 percent of successful attacks lead to a devastating amount of data being compromised in the United Kingdom, which is slightly more favorable when compared with the same effect Europe-wide.

Overall, the average estimated cost of a cyber-attack for a British-based business is around £172,000, compared with £243,000 for the rest of Europe.

Ferguson noted that when giving talks, he often asked attendees whether they could confidently tell him what version of the often-to-be-patched Acrobat Reader app all of their users were currently running.

"Regardless of audience size," Ferguson said, "I will only ever get two hands up."

Source: Trend Micro.

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