The top 5 cyber security threats in Europe

Cyber security breaches are on the rise. Avoid sloppy IT security practices and protect against the biggest threats in Europe right now.

Cyber security breaches are costing businesses big money, not to mention damaging competitiveness and reputations.

Malicious security incidents directly cost SMEs at least €935 million a year, according to the latest European Union figures. This rises to €4.15 billion when you include data loss due to hardware and software failure.

So what are the major culprits?

Here are the top five threats to protect against, according to the latest research from the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA):

1. Drive-by downloads

Not the kind involving cars and shootouts, this actually refers to the unintentional downloading of malicious software to your computer or mobile device. The malicious code can download in the background while you browse a seemingly innocent looking web page. Like many security threats, drive-by downloads usually exploit weaknesses in out of date or vulnerable operating systems. JavaScript remains the favourite platform of attackers, with malicious URLs the most common delivery channel.

2. Malicious code – worms and Trojans

Worms and Trojans are considered the top emerging threat to mobile computing according to the ENISA, while nearly one-third of the world’s computers could be infected with malware, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group.

Easy access to toolkits that can generate hard-to-detect variants of existing malware, and increased targeting of inadequately protected mobile devices, have resulted in a rising threat from malicious code such as worms and Trojans.

3. Code injection

This form of attack is on the rise, because of a proliferation of automated attack tools. The ENISA says popular content management systems have become a favourite target for cyber criminals. Additionally, large scale automated attacks are increasingly being launched from within cloud service provider networks.

4. Exploit kits

Exploit kits are usually delivered via compromised URL’s (through a drive-by download). The ENISA considers these the biggest tool in the arsenal of cyber criminals. Exploit kits search for vulnerabilities and launch attacks to take over an asset. They are highly customisable and automated, making them easy delivery systems for malware, code injections and the exploitation of vulnerabilities.

5. Botnets

Networks of remotely controlled computers are still a serious security threat – often without users being aware their systems are compromised. Recent developments include their ability to run on cloud infrastructure, and bots being used to ‘steal’ CPU bandwidth for Bitcoin mining.

Rounding out the top 10

6. Physical damage, theft or loss

7. Identity theft and fraud

8. Denial of service

9. Phishing

10. Spam

The threat landscape is constantly evolving, which is why it’s critical to implement a multi-layered approach to security that goes beyond tools and technology. For the latest IT security practices, discover seven easy ways to protect your business against these threats in our Essential Guide to Cyber Security.


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