Malware Causes Longest Cybersecurity Incidents for EU Telecoms, Agency Reports


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Malware attacks for the first time created the longest lasting cybersecurity incidents “in duration and hours lost” in the telecom sector in 2016, according to the European Union cybersecurity agency’s Annual Incidents Report.

The 2017 report by the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) was released June 16 and covered 2016. It also found that most reported incidents in 2016 involved mobile internet and telephone connections.

There were 158 incidents reported to ENISA and the European Commission from 24 countries in the EU and the European Free Trade Area, which includes Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

There were few incidences of malware attacks, such as distributed denial of services attacks (DDoS), but malware resulted in the longest cybersecurity incidents and the most lost user hours. There were only three reported incidents over the course of 2012 and 2016.

The report divided electronic communications into four primary services that were most affected by cybersecurity incidents—mobile internet, mobile telephony, fixed internet, and fixed telephony—and also included other services that were affected at lower rates.

Forty-eight percent of all reported incidents were related to mobile internet, which led all other incidents for the third year in a row. Both mobile internet and telephone cybersecurity incidents increased over the previous year. Fixed telephone service had the most reported incidents in 2014.

SMS messages were the next service most impacted by cybersecurity incidents, followed by cable television.

Despite ubiquitous news coverage of cyberattacks, malicious actions were the main cause of very few incidents (5.1 percent), although double the percentage of malicious attacks from 2015. However, 76.5 percent of malicious actions include DDoS, malware, and network hijacks.

The vast majority of incidents (73 percent) were caused by system failures or technical failures, and also human error (11.4 percent)

“Given the criticality of Telecoms networks to our daily lives it is important that ENISA reports on the monitoring of the resilience of these networks by the Telecom operators on a pan EU level and that we all learn from the previous years' experience" Udo Helmbrecht, executive director of ENISA said.

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