UK organisations were the second most targeted by advanced persistent threats (APT) and malware attacks in Europe in the last year, according to security firm FireEye's regional threat report.
Great Britain, along with Switzerland, Germany and France make up a quartet of countries that represent more than 70 per cent of infections across Europe in 2013, leaving 18 nations to split the remaining 30 per cent.
Despite trailing Germany as the most-targeted European nation, the UK was tied for fourth globally with France and Thailand when it came to most verticals targeted by APT attacks. In the worldwide report, the US (20 verticals), South Korea (16) and Canada (13) all lie above the UK (12) for most verticals targeted by the attacks.
In the regional report, FireEye found that the rate of increase in workstation infections across the UK and Ireland skyrocketed in the last four months of 2013, and the number of unique infections more than tripled from January to December 2013.
Unsurprisingly, the financial services sector was the most infected by attackers in the UK and Ireland with 31 per cent of all attacks, with telecoms firms second (15 per cent) and energy/utilities/petroleum third (14 per cent). These were followed by healthcare, higher education, and entertainment/media/hospitality. The government accounted for only four per cent of infections by attackers.
However, the government continues to be the number one target in the UK and Ireland, accounting for 49 per cent of APT attacks, nearly twice as much as governments account for in Europe (25 per cent).
In the UK and Ireland, energy/utilities/petroleum refining firms are targeted the second most (18 per cent) followed by the financial services (10 per cent) and higher education (seven per cent).
"While the UK and Ireland face unique challenges based on the maturity of the financial services, telecommunications and energy-based industries that are based there, we have found that the overall market is very much in line with the rest of Europe," the FireEye report reads.
"Thus, as with our outlook for the whole of Europe, we see an opportunity for UK and Ireland cyber defenders to get ahead of the rapidly expanding advanced threat actors."
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