How cybercrime is becoming the next big challenge for Europe

A recent report by TechRobot has scrutinised the real-world and cyber-world crime rates of the 36 OECD countries and examined how well-informed citizens are on the topic.

The report also detailed whether Europeans feel concerned about specific crimes as well as how regularly each European country changed their email password over the last year in response to cybercrime.

While Europe is still considered one of the safest places in the world when it comes to real crime, the continent is now facing a new and to many people, unknown challenge in the form of cybercrime.

Where is the threat of cybercrime most challenging on the continent? Currently, the United Kingdom takes the top spot as the most dangerous countries for cyberattacks. A study by Detica for the Cabinet Office recently found that the UK suffers losses of £27bn per year due to the crime, with UK companies bearing the worst brunt of it. Alongside this, 13.64 for every 100,000 UK citizens experience financial losses due to cybercrime – the highest rate in Europe.

The UK was also found to have the highest rate of online ID theft – totalling 20.5 in every 100,000 people – alongside credit/debit card fraud, which was found in 47.7 for every 100,000 citizens. According to TechRobot, these findings make it not suprising that UK citizens have changed their email password the most out of all of the European countries researched over the past 12 months at 354.68 per every 100,000 people.

Trailing just behind the UK in second and third place is France and Germany. France recorded a cybercrime level of 497.2 per 100,000 citizens and its people experienced social media account hacking at a rate of 19.62 in every 100,00 people – also the second highest across the continent.

TechRobot noted that a lot of people in France were using simple and easy-to-guess passwords and reused them for many different accounts, making it easier for hackers to get into more than just one account. The number of French people who believed the risk of being a cybercrime victim was increasing is also climbing, with the rate of concern at 529.95 per 100,000.

In Germany, the country’s citizens experience the misuse of personal information online more than any other country in Europe – with phishing being a particular key problem, at 302 per 100,000 citizens being affected by this crime. Germany also has a high rate of people who believe the risk of becoming a cybercrime victim is increasing, with 662.81 per 100,000 people agreeing with this point.

However, a key challenge for the country is its lack of information on this topic. According to the TechRobot report, 100.68 for every 100,000 Germany citizens claim they lack knowledge about the dangers of cybercrime. Germany also has the fifth-highest rate of experience pharming, a scam where the website’s traffic is manipulated by a hacker and confidential information can be stolen.

Safest countries and most concerned

Which European countries are seen as the safest in regard to cybercrime? The top prize here went to Montenegro, with the country having a cybercrime rate of 0.5 per 100,000 citizens. The country also experiences the lowest rates of phishing throughout Europe at a rate of 0.19 per 100,000 citizens, while the overall misuse of personal information of the internet was at 0.

Albania was also found to be a highly safe region, with the country being the safest for fraudulent credit/debit card use and experiencing a financial loss due to cybercrime, with 0 people per every 100,000 affected by these crimes.

Southern European country North Macedonia was ranked as the safest country overall in the study. In the area of cybercrime, however, it had a rate of only 5 cybercrime offences per 100,000 citizens – the country ranked in a relatively safe thirteenth out of the 36 countries.

While the rates of real-world crime were highest than cybercrime for every country researched, the threat of cybercrime is rising rapidly.

The fear of experiencing an attacker impersonating you online is growing, with £58m lost to impersonation scams in the UK alone between January and June 2020, according to UK Finance. Taking the top three spots again were France, Germany and the UK, who had the highest rates of impersonation alone at 503.78, 461.45 and 456.99 per 100,000 people respectively.

The highest rates of cybercrime concern were also these three countries again, coming in at 662.81 for Germany, 572.94 for the UK and 529.95 for France per 100,000 citizens for each country.

Behind these three countries as the most dangerous for cybercrime was Italy. In Italy, cybercrime offences impact Italians at a level of 229.40 per every 100,00 citizens. Worryingly, the country also has the highest rate of citizens that are not aware of the risks of cybercrime at all – coming in at 162.99 citizens per 100,000.

One of the key ways to maintain good cyber hygiene is to regularly change your password. According to the survey, the UK, Germany and France had the highest amount of email password changes over the last year, with rates as high as 354.68, 344 and 215.91 per 100,000 citizens respectively. The countries that had the lowest number of password changes in the last year were Malta, Luxembourg and Finland, at rates of 1.64, 2.92 and 3.05 respectively.

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