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Almost half of Belgian companies victims of cybercrime

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Almost half (43%) of 252 Belgian companies surveyed by Vias were victims of cybercrimes in the last year, the second security investigation into the problem revealed.

The findings showed that defamatory attacks on social media were particularly prevalent among respondents. The study was carried out between January and March 2021 in collaboration with various Belgian organisations including the Cyber Security Coalition, the federal police, and the Belgian Federation of Businesses (FEB).

Moreover, cybercrime is the most prominent security concern for the majority of companies today. Of the 43% who reported having been targeted in the past year, crimes included the illegal access of IT systems and the corruption of data or systems by means of a hostile virus. Cyberextortion and spying were also among the breaches listed.

Cybercrime has soared during the pandemic in conjunction with the leap in online traffic as home working has been adopted en masse and businesses move operations online. Many companies and public organisations have been targeted by ransomware that essentially renders a website or IT system unusable until a ransom has been paid.

Yet a number of other security issues were highlighted by this recent study, such as online vandalism (38%), vehicle hacking (37%), and the above-mentioned slander of organisations on social media.

Intriguingly, although cyber-criminals are widely perceived as being malicious hacking gangs operating under foreign jurisdiction, the study showed that the participating companies who were targeted often knew the perpetrator. “In many cases the culprit is an employee of the company or a sub-contractor,” Vias reports.

Moreover, it transpires that there are many infractions that go unreported in cases where companies deem the offence “not so serious, or not leading to lasting damage.”

But Vias highlighted the collective impact that such attacks can have on the general public: “The fight against cybercrimes within a business affects everyone. If offences are committed, it is vital that they are brought to the attention of authorities.”