Cybersecurity threats in Belgium more than quadrupled on Black Friday

Cybersecurity threats in Belgium more than quadrupled on Black Friday
Military personnel pointing their rifles at a computer screen ahead of a presentation of the results of the first study on the cybersecurity sector by Agoria. Credit: Jonas Roosens / Belga

Cybersecurity threats in Belgium increased by 440% in the week leading up to Black Friday, Surfshark reveals. In this period, Belgium was assigned a threat rating of 40, which is 149% higher than the global average.

Based on data from Surfshark’s antivirus software, every one in fifty virus scans found at least one threat in Belgium in the week leading to Black Friday. The most common risks were from riskware and trojans.

“The holiday shopping season starting with Black Friday is not only beneficial for the retailers but cybercriminals too,” said Nedas Kazlauskas, Antivirus Product Owner at Surfshark. “People searching for gifts and deals online during the period of huge discounts are more likely to click on suspicious links, download malicious files, and infect their devices.”

Belgium experienced the second highest surge in cyber-related threats in Europe behind Romania (4349%). Globally, Europe was the most affected region for cyber threats. For every 100 virus scans performed by European users, 21 threats are found, which is 28% higher than the global average.

Riskware, poorly optimised or otherwise risky software, was the most commonly identified threat, representing 47.3% of all threats. Other commonly found threats included heuristic viruses (which can disable antiviruses and change system settings) and adware.

As of 17 October, Cybershark has found that for every 100 virus scans, 10 riskware threats are now found. Some malware, such as viruses, trojans, and worms, tend to multiply once they’ve infiltrated and infected a device, which can cause damage to personal files and data. 24% of scans that detected viruses will detect more than 50 of them at one time.

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Surfshark also warns about the prevalence of malware, software intentionally designed to cause harm to the user’s system.

“Hackers use malware to corrupt or delete files, steal money and personal data, copy passwords, or take control of specific programs. The most common ways for malware to be installed are phishing emails, corrupt attachments, suspicious downloads, unfamiliar lions, and malicious websites,” the company warned.

To this end, Surshark offers advice for Belgian netizens during this period of heightened cyber risk.

Belgians should avoid unfamiliar sites and discounts that are “too good to be true”; look for the secure HTTPS ‘lock’ icon to identify legitimate sites; keep their software updated; steer clear of suspicious links; and use up-to-date antivirus software software.

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