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Cyber Security in Serbia

What is the Local Trend in Cyber Security?

As we approach 2024, we can say that we are leaving behind one of the more challenging years, both for experts in the field of cyber security and for users. With a clear perception that the cyber scene can only become more complex and challenging, we must note significant progress in the cyber security industry. Organizations are becoming more aware of cyber threats and the importance of investing in stronger security measures which are undoubtedly being undertaken, professionals in this field are developing innovative solutions to combat new threats, and collaboration between governments, businesses, and the academic community is growing.

According to the National Cybersecurity Index (NCSI), which measures the level of cybersecurity in countries around the world, Serbia currently ranks 51st, with a total score of 0.516. Although the statistics have significantly changed compared to previous years, Serbia has been intensively challenged on the field of cybersecurity for some time.

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In 2020, the City of Novi Sad and several other public services within the JKP "Informatika" system, became victims of a serious hacker attack. Unknown hackers demanded a high ransom in bitcoins to decrypt the keys and release the affected systems. This significant damage to the city's IT infrastructure had serious consequences, including disabling the city's video surveillance network, disabling access to email for city service employees, and disrupting operations at the "Informatika" payment counters. This incident is recorded as one of the largest hacking attacks in Serbia since the introduction of modern information technologies.

That same year, in April, at the beggining of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an incident involving a breach in the availability of the public health database. During this time, on the website of one of the health institutions in Belgrade, the username and password of citizens were available to a widespread online audience for an extended period. Due to the prolonged availability of the data, the page was even indexed by Google.

Evolution of Threats and New Challenges

With the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Serbia received over 10 false electronic alerts. On several occasions, the threats were directed at the "Nikola Tesla" Airport and the airline "Air Serbia". Another six false bomb threats in Belgrade followed in a short period of time, targeting three shopping centers, two student dormitories, and the Zoo. According to operational knowledge from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, the threats were sent from the territory of one of the European countries and Ukraine and were characterized as cyber terrorism.

The reality of the developing market supports the growth in demand for cyber insurance, and according to reports from the global insurance and reinsurance company “Swiss Re”, cyber insurance rates increased by 30 to 40 percent in 2021, and are expected to rise by as much as 50 percent.

Although Serbia has taken a number of measures to improve security in the cyber world, including the adoption of the Law on Electronic Communications and Postal Services, the establishment of the National CERT (National Center for Security Risk Prevention), and launching campaigns to raise awareness of cyber security, there is still much that can be done to improve cyber security in the country.