Advisen Loss Insight: Europe’s cyber and privacy landscape by Erin Ayers

29/11/2015 09:18

The European Union’s Court of Justice decision prompts a look at how the privacy and cyber risk landscape has progressed outside of the United States. Cyber incidents in Europe began to spike in 2009 and rose gradually over the next five years, although laws in Europe have less of an emphasis on notification following corporate data breaches and more of a focus on personal control over data held by governments.


When cyber-related losses occur in Europe, more than half (59 percent) affect personal privacy, according to Advisen data. Personal financial identity ranked second, at 20 percent, although this may be attributed to the fact that fewer data breaches involving consumer payment cards are regularly announced for European organizations. Personal privacy includes the loss, exposure, or misuse of an individual’s name and address, driver’s license, email, birthdate, gender, vehicle registration information, photo, fingerprints, credit history, or medical records.


In terms of the reasons for privacy losses in European countries, the sources of loss range fairly evenly between printed records, websites, email, and lost laptops. Exposure or loss of privacy via servers and “other” causes comprise the top two causes of loss, according to Advisen data, as 25 percent and 19 percent, respectively. The recent Safe Harbor decision may add to the “server” category, since at issue in the case have been U.S. companies transferring data from the EU to U.S. servers for processing. Privacy advocates in Europe have voiced concerns that European data may be accessed by the U.S. government, with no recourse for EU citizens.


Erin Ayers is Advisen's Networks Editor. She has over 15 years of journalism experience, having covered property-casualty insurance for the last 13 years as editor-in-chief of The Standard, New England’s Insurance Weekly. A frequent speaker at industry events, Erin is based in Boston, Mass. She previously worked for the Boston Globe. Contact Erin at