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Perceived security risks vary widely across Europe

Says IT firm that got hacked in France, but not the UK

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SANS - Survey on application security programs

Firms in different European countries are divided on what security risks pose the biggest threat to their business. Multinationals are failing to take this into account when devising corporate policies.

These are the main findings of research conducted by security specialist Evidian which found that viruses were seen as the major threat in France, Spain and Germany (two in five named it the top risk) but British firms were far more concern about sabotage by disgruntled employees.

Meaning in Scandinavia 50 per cent of the firms questioned in a Europe-wide survey of 250 firms thought that accidental damage by staffers was the greatest risk facing firms. In Italy, financial fraud was identified as the biggest headache.

The research also identified considerable differences in the areas of the business infrastructure perceived to be most at risk. In Germany and Spain, Intranets were identified by the majority of respondents as being most in need of protection, whilst in France, Scandinavia and Benelux it was Web sites.

In Britain, 60 per cent of companies identified corporate databases as the most vulnerable points of the IT infrastructure.

Firewalls and password security remain by far the most popular technologies to protect corporate networks and data across most of Europe, except (interestingly) in Germany where encryption is now the most recognised technique.

We think these differences reflect variations in national character as much as real threats but Evidian, which is a subsidiary of Groupe Bull, is calling for firms to consider applying local variations to corporate security, within the bounds of making sure overall security policies are still consistent.

Last August, Bull had to mount an internal investigation after confidential customer data was left on a French Web server in plain view sans password or cryptographic protection. Customers reportedly affected included Royal Air Force, Barclays and France Telecom.

The problems didn't affect Bull's UK site and we can't help pondering whether Evidian decided a review of different approaches to security throughout Europe was called for after it's own up close and personal experiences. But the survey does throw up some interesting findings and raises the question of whether multinational firms are not giving local BOFHs enough autonomy. ®

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Evidian's survey of European security

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