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Balkans see rise in cyberattacks as more systems use biometrics and digital ID: Report

Balkans see rise in cyberattacks as more systems use biometrics and digital ID: Report

The Balkans is experiencing a surge in cyberattacks against public and private organizations just as the region is embracing biometrics and digital identity raising questions about the protection of biometric data, new research from the Balkan Investigative Journalism Network (BIRN) has shown.

The organization mapped 40 incidents that resulted in significant data breaches and compromised large amounts of data between 2020 and 2023, covering countries such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia. The attacks include ransomware, phishing, data hacking and other cyber attacks against the public sector, banks and individuals.

The cyber intrusions have raised concern about data privacy, including biometric data. The region has been increasingly relying on biometrics and digital identity in online banking, e-government services and border control. Among the 40 listed cases, however, none seem to be connected to biometric data, although in many incidents it is not clear which data was breached or compromised. The data potentially compromised does include unique identification numbers.

Among the problems in fighting the onslaught of cybercrime has been poor public awareness, inadequate cybersecurity policies and limited regional collaboration, the report concludes.

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