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Comparing Germany's Digital Risk to Western Europe's

by Cybersprint Blog 28 Jan 2020

Cybersprint is expanding their services in Germany. The development and awareness of cyber security in the German markets is interesting to see. This inspired us to make a comparative analysis of the cyber-resilience between German organisations and those in the rest of Western Europe. Does the German approach to regulatory control and cybersecurity result in a noticeable difference?

Finding various vulnerabilities

We used our Digital Risk Protection platform for this research. With it, we built the online footprints and attack surfaces of 50 German organisations. The method resembles that of a hacker’s: outside-in. We inventory subdomains, web pages and other assets using the organisations’ brand names. These 50 organisations have over 70,000 associated digital assets combined, with the largest over 10,000 and the smallest a handful. The organisations’ services, products and markets varied to make the results more representative.

Next, every individual asset is assessed based on the risks, from configuration errors, to email security and GDPR compliance. Some of these vulnerabilities are more critical than others. That’s why the platform assigns risk ratings from A (‘nothing to worry about’) to F (‘in need of immediate attention’). As a result, customers to our platform have 24/7 access to real-time insights into their footprint: empowering them to prioritise and remediate.

Obviously, only passive, non-invasive techniques have been used in gathering the data.

Ranking the risks

We compared two high-level outcomes:

  • The distribution of the security ratings (A – F)
  • The distribution of the risk categories

cyber security rating Germany

Figure 1. Percentages of total asset security rating per organisation.

We can see that, out of the 70,000 assets, 2% have an F rating, and an additional 6% have an E rating. This might sound bad, but it’s consistent with the control group.

Furthermore, we identified six kinds of risk categories:
Domain security = such as DNSSEC, subdomain takeovers
Email security = email spoofing, email authenticity, etc (can be fixed with e.g. DMARC)
Encryption = SSL security certificates, can someone intercept the website traffic?
Regulatory risks = cookie settings, GDPR compliance
Software configuration  = making it possible to see on what software your systems run
Vulnerabilities = older software versions containing known bugs

As can be seen in figure 2, four kinds of risks are very low and almost identical for the German and the Western European organisations. Vulnerabilities, domain security, encryption and regulatory risks only deviate by 1%, if at all. Initially, we expected the regulatory risks to show a bigger difference. However, regulatory risks across Germany and Western Europe are quite alike; 48 out of 50 brands have them.

Risk categories
Figure 2. Distribution of the risk categories in relation to the number of assets between the organisations in Germany and those in Western Europe.

The remaining two risk categories are a different story, though. Both groups show a much higher percentage of email security and software configuration vulnerabilities than in the other four categories. Although there are slightly less configuration errors detected for the German organisations, 57% of all detected German risks were email configuration errors, compared to the 48% in the control group.


While a lack of email security (such as configuring DMARC) is a wide-spread phenomenon, we do advise organisations to take action, since many attack types rely on email spoofing. Still, as for the overall comparison between the cybersecurity in Germany and Western Europe, our research doesn’t show a big difference or gap over the organisations subjected to the analyses.

The value of your digital footprint

Many risks, such as shadow IT, data leaks and advanced attacks, can be minimised by removing blind spots in your digital footprint. At Cybersprint, we believe that risk extends beyond the perimeter, and there’s more risk than just attacks: brand abuse, third party and regulatory risks are all addressable by monitoring your digital footprint, continuously and in real-time.

From risk to remediation, Cybersprint offers full visibility into your digital assets and their associated risks, with continuous, real-time, automated digital footprint monitoring.

online footprint visualisation


Control over third-party risk

Most organisations outsource parts of their IT infrastructure. This brings different opportunities for the services they deliver, such as cloud accessibility or faster web traffic through external web hosting. But there is a downside. As more parts of the online footprint are in the hands of third parties, the digital attack surface of your organisation grows. Even though you cannot directly control those assets, your brand can be held accountable when data is leaked. So, what can you do to regain control over your external assets?

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Pandemic-related domains list

- The information in this article will be updated frequently -  The 2020 pandemic has forced us all to adapt the way we work and communicate. Cybercriminals are leveraging the situation at the expense of others. At Cybersprint, we aim to keep these digital risks to a minimum. Therefore, we're sharing our latest research, containing a list of dodgy Corona-related domains you can use for blacklisting purposes.

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Bad actors leveraging crises: 3 types of activities to watch out for

2020 is surely not starting out as we expected, as the horrible virus is disrupting and even ending the lives of many. We have mixed emotions writing this up, because there many people doing way more important work, like healthcare workers. Unfortunately, the bad guys have leveraged the crisis like clockwork. We looked at the three most common activities of bad actors.

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