The European Commission suffered a 20% rise in attacks on its infrastructure in 2016, it has been revealed, as fears grow over Russian attempts to influence the outcome of major elections in France and Germany.
The Commission is said to be stepping up cybersecurity co-operation with Nato, which has also experienced a rise in attacks.
Politicians have already voiced concerns in France and Germany that the Kremlin could be preparing another campaign to destabilise the region by hacking and releasing sensitive political information, using propaganda tools like Russia Today, and spreading false news on social media sites.
French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Le Journal Du Dimanche over the weekend that the attacks against the country were doubling each year.
He claimed defence targets were hit by 24,000 cyber attacks last year, including attempts at disrupting the country’s drone systems.
Jean-Yves Le Drian’s comments follow a UK report that show the volume of attacks hitting individual company firewalls passed the 1,000 per day mark, on average, last November, Business Matters reports.
While a third of attacks against UK businesses attempted to access company databases in the first quarter of 2016, cyber criminals have since shifted their focus to connected devices such as networked security cameras and building control systems that can be controlled remotely over the internet.
There was a 310 per cent increase in the volume of attacks seeking out Internet of Things devices between the first and final quarters of 2016. By the end of last year, more than 90 per cent of cyber attacks on UK businesses sought to take control of connected devices in the workplace.
Analysis indicates that the number of inbound threats against UK businesses has grown during 2016. A fivefold increase was recorded in the number of unique IP addresses used to launch attacks against UK businesses during 2016. More than 98 per cent originated from outside of the UK.
On Monday, the British government said it would be launching a national inquiry into cyber security to assess the extent to which the UK is protected from an ever-increasing tide of attacks worldwide.