The state of cybercrime in Hungary: A wake-up call for businesses

In a world heavily reliant on digital technology, the threat of cybercrime is looming larger than ever, and Hungary is no exception. Mastercard’s latest report on the state of cybercrime in Hungary should make every business here think long and hard about their employee training strategies on this subject.

Last year, eKRÉTA Informatikai Zrt. – a development company of a school management platform (KRÉTA) – experienced a cyberattack. This platform is widely used by educational institutions across Hungary. The attackers used phishing tactics to gain access. At that point, KRÉTA stored the personal details of more than 720,000 Hungarian students between the ages of 6 and 18.

According to an anonymous source at eKRÉTA Zrt., the attackers gained access through a project manager who clicked on an infected link in a fraudulent email. From there, the cybercriminals were able to widen their access perimeter.

This is just one example of tens of thousands of cyberattacks that happen in Hungary every year.

Now, the global surge in cybercrime over the last few years is well-documented: malware attacks increased by 358% between 2019 and 2020, cyberattacks rose by 125% between 2021 and 2022, and the average cost of data breaches for businesses went up from €4.04 million ($4.24 million) in 2021 to €4.12 million ($4.35 million) in 2022.

In September of this year, Mastercard released a report on the state of cybercrime in Hungary titled The Age of Cybercrime. What this particular report found should be troubling for businesses in Hungary and serve as a wake-up call: the country is lagging behind its European counterparts in terms of cybercrime and cybersecurity awareness.

The state of cybercrime awareness in Hungary

According to the report, more than half of the Hungarian population is either not at all informed (23%) or not very well informed (36%) about cybercrime risks. That’s compared to the EU averages of 17% and 30%, respectively.

Furthermore, 33% of Hungarians would not report personal data theft, and 34% would keep quiet if they experienced banking fraud.

Yet, the country has the 4th highest exposure rate to cybercrime in the CEE region, according to the report’s risk index calculated based on the correlation between cyberattack risks, wages, and time spent online.

The most common forms of cyberattacks in Hungary are malware, email social engineering, and ransomware. Primary data targets of such attacks are customers’ personal and financial information, legal documents, intellectual property, companies’ financial information, business systems, physical assets, and employee data.

Cybersecurity attacks that result in data breaches pose not only six-figure financial threats to businesses but reputational risks as well. Unfortunately, more than 80% of cyberattacks are the result of human error – as was the case with the KRÉTA example provided earlier. Fortunately, businesses that take cybersecurity education seriously can significantly tip the scales in their favor.