8th worst in Europe: Cybersecurity for UK business

In the article, Hayley Kershaw, AdvanceFirst Technologies, analyses the data from recent research to identify successful cybersecurity practices from countries achieving the top-ranking and how, with the UK’s commitment to cybersecurity, businesses can improve.
In the article, Hayley Kershaw, AdvanceFirst Technologies, analyses the data from recent research to identify successful cybersecurity practices from countries achieving the top ranking and how businesses can improve with the UK’s commitment to cybersecurity.

The European Cybersecurity Index has revealed that the UK’s cybersecurity standing is poor. The UK ranked as the 8th worst in Europe. Hayley Kershaw, writing for AdvanceFirst Technologies, examines the findings of the Index and what this means for the UK and global business cybersecurity.

Past rankings have placed the UK highly for cybersecurity and safety. However, the recent European Cybersecurity Index, which analyzed 24 European countries on a number of different factors, placed the UK 17th overall.

While the UK rated highly for its commitment to cybersecurity, this wasn’t enough. The UK’s exposure rank, cybersecurity legislation, the number of victims of malicious software, social network or email hacking, online banking fraud, and identity theft show that the country is not as secure as it thought. What does this mean for UK businesses, and what lessons can we learn from the most cyber-secure countries?

The most cyber-secure countries in Europe

The European Cybersecurity Index analyzed seven different factors, giving each country a score for these factors. The results were then compiled to demonstrate just how prepared each country is for a cyber attack. The factors used were:

  • Commitment to cybersecurity
  • Exposure rank
  • Malicious software discovered on devices within the last three years
  • Social network and email accounts hacked within the last three years
  • Bankcard and online banking fraud victims within the last three years
  • Identity theft victims within the last three years
  • Number of pieces of cybersecurity legislation

Portugal ranked highest with an overall score of 8.21, versus the UK’s 5.59. They are placed in the top of three different categories. They had the lowest percentages of victims of malicious software, social network and email account hacks, and victims of identity theft.

These findings suggest that, as the most cyber-safe region in Europe, Portuguese residents have not only an understanding of staying safe online but that they also take an active role in their own cybersecurity.

Businesses do not need to be experts in cybersecurity in order to succeed in it. Most social media and work-sharing platforms have made dual-factor authentication an integral part of their log-in processes, adding an extra step to keep accounts secure. Authentication apps are ideal for businesses to use to ensure that private information and data can only be accessed by those who should be viewing it.

In the last three years, only 3% of Portuguese residents fell victim to social network and email account hacking. By comparison, the UK had 10% of residents who were victims of similar hacking attempts, highlighting how vital education and making dual-factor authentication part of the workplace is. It is a small measure businesses can take, but it will have a positive impact on operations.


Lithuania came in second with a score of 7.99. While it scored well across several categories, including a commitment to cybersecurity, it was joint first with Portugal for the low percentage of victims of identity fraud at just 1% in the last three years.

Fraudsters utilize different methods to obtain information to steal identities, hoping to know full names, dates of births, addresses, and more. The most common way to do this is through phishing emails.

While some phishing emails appear immediately obvious as a scam when you see them, others do not. Unfortunately, scammers are creating increasingly authentic-looking emails, and so staff within a business can easily fall victim to them.

Businesses can opt to use email security measures to better protect their inboxes, such as Secure Email Gateways. Another option is to educate employees on how to recognize a phishing email and what to do if you receive one. This will help your employees take vital cybersecurity measures to keep their identities safe and protect your business.


With a score of 7.21, Slovakia is the third highest country on the European Cybersecurity Index. While Slovakia did not claim the top spot for any cybersecurity factor in the Index, they had the highest exposure rank out of the top three with a score of 62, where a lower number indicates a greater risk of exposure. By comparison, the UK has the highest risk of exposure with a score of 5.

It is vital for businesses to reduce their risk of exposure to cybersecurity threats where possible. Current IT teams within businesses must cover a wide variety of areas, and with the current skills shortage in the technology industry, it can be difficult to ensure all areas of business are covered correctly.

Teams are spread out, limiting their ability to respond quickly to threats and increasing the risk for businesses. Outsourcing or decentralizing areas of operation can take the pressure off of your in-house teams and add extra security to your business.

Electronic Data Interchange is a tool many businesses use to automate processes and optimize their supply chain. However, most businesses do not have an in-house team with the knowledge and understanding to successfully implement EDI solutions securely, and so outsourcing is the most effective method.

Decentralizing cybersecurity vulnerabilities can keep organizations safe and secure by allowing trusted business partners to take responsibility for areas of business that do not require your internal IT teams to run them. In addition, the separation of functions can mean that, should one area become exposed, the others will remain safe.


Commitment to cybersecurity isn’t enough

According to the European Cybersecurity Index, the UK scored the highest in terms of its commitment to cybersecurity. However, as we have seen from the results of the Index, a commitment isn’t enough. The UK is the most exposed to cybersecurity threats, and so businesses must take steps to raise awareness and ensure that their information is secure.

With working from home and hybrid office working common for many organizations, businesses must provide cybersecurity software for all devices and educate staff members on cybersecurity. Alerting staff to recent cybersecurity threats can help your business stay safe, and ensure that your commitment to cybersecurity matches up to the measures you have in place.

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Amber Donovan-Stevens

Amber is a Content Editor at Top Business Tech