Last year, one in four people living in the European Union experienced an online security issue ranging from a virus to a financial loss. Croatia was worst hit with 42% of people saying they were victims of a security-related issue. Most resilient nation was the Czech Republic with just 10% of citizens affected.

Viruses and other infections, such as worms or Trojan horses, were the most common problems. Just over one in five internet users in the EU was victim of a computer infection, resulting in the loss of time or information, according to Eurostat.

Source: Eurostat

The problems were EU-wide -- western European nations such as Denmark, Belgium and Sweden were just as likely to be affected as eastern states such as Bulgaria and Estonia.

Lost opportunities

The economic impact is substantial. Consumers willingness to shop online or make other digital transactions is linked to security concerns. Nearly 20% of Europeans said they would not shop online and 18% would not consider online banking due to such fears. Some were even more cautious with 13% saying they would not use a wireless connection outside their home.

Those fears will need to be tamed if the EU is to succeed in its push for a Digital Single Market. It is estimated that this could contribute 415 billion euros per year into the economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

A step in the right direction

Online security has actually improved notably since 2010. The EU has seen a 10% reduction in incidents over the last five years. The number of infections, loss of information or other breaches dropped in every EU nation except Croatia. Most countries saw double-digit improvements with Slovakia and Bulgaria leading with more than a 30% drop in viruses.

Source: Eurostat