European firms are taking a proactive approach to information security in the face of targeted attacks and advanced persistent threats (APTs), according to research firm Frost & Sullivan.

These threats take

the form of cyber attacks that lie dormant inside the network for months and even years, exfiltrating valuable company data for illicit financial gain.

The severe repercussions have prompted managed security service providers (MSSPs) to expand their offerings to protect organisations against APTs, according to the company’s latest report.

The report, entitled A service-centric approach to APTs, concludes that a greater portion of market participants’ revenues in Europe, the Middle East and Africa will be devoted to threat intelligence research, detection and remediation to enable organisations to counteract the effects of APTs.

The report also predicts that intelligence and forensics will become the most important differentiators for companies selling APT defence systems and services.

Understanding how threat actors work is vital to identifying indicators of compromise during the early stages of an attack, the report said.

As a result, companies are deploying technologies such as advanced data analytics and event correlation alongside sandboxing to detect and remediate attacks once they are inside the network.

“European organisations have a more relaxed approach to cyber security than US organisations, wherein there is greater awareness of the threat of targeted cyber attacks,” said Beatriz Valle, information and communication technologies senior analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

“Slowly, however, European companies are coming to grips with the fact that they are prime targets – just as much as their US counterparts,” she said.

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In the US, the possibility of a class action lawsuit resulting in large aggregate losses and the strength of the legal professional services sector have had a positive impact on the security posture adopted by organisations.

Frost & Sullivan expect this environment to reach western Europe soon and have an encouraging impact for MSSPs.

However, the analyst firm believes MSSPs should nevertheless create customer awareness of the damage a threat actor can cause in a short time to quickly expand their market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“For now, MSSPs are partnering more than ever with product vendors to offer compelling APT solutions for the complex European market,” said Valle.

“This trend is becoming entrenched in the security landscape, with more product vendors joining forces with service providers to enhance their customer reach and exploit the rising demand for greater investment in analytics, APT research and behavioural modelling,” she said.