Many organizations are struggling to keep up with the rapidly evolving security threat landscape, citing cyber espionage as the most serious threat to their business, according to a new study from security company Trend Micro.

The company surveyed 2,402 IT enterprise decision markers in the U.S. and Europe in February 2017, and found that 20% rank cyber espionage as the most serious threat. One in five U.S. organizations have suffered a cyber espionage-related attack in the last year.

Other threats cited by respondents include targeted attacks (17%) and phishing (16%). Eight out of 10 countries cited the increasing unpredictability of cyber criminals as one of the three biggest challenges to protecting against cyber threats. A further 29% mentioned a lack of understanding of the latest threats and 26% are struggling to keep up with the rapidly evolving landscape and increasing sophistication of cyber criminal activity.

“As more of our critical data is being moved online, nation states are now targeting businesses to obtain this data and businesses are struggling to keep up, which could also be placing critical infrastructure at risk,” said Raimund Genes, CTO at Trend Micro. “Nation states are able to use far more sophisticated methods, enabling them to target institutions such as hospitals, utilities and traffic signals, with far more disastrous consequences.”

The research shows that almost two-thirds (64%) of businesses experienced a “known” major cyber attack in the past 12 months, with the average being four. Among this group, ransomware was by far the most common threat type, with 78% of respondents claiming to have been attacked at least once in the period. Only 16% of those who had experienced an attack had not suffered a ransomware attack.

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Bob Violino

Bob Violino

Bob Violino is a freelance technology and business writer who covers a variety of topics, including big data and analytics, cloud computing, information security and mobile technology.