Region/Countries: Europe, Hungary Industry: Other Date: February 2021

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Hungary is an advanced market in this industry, and also receives high marks for cross-border trade and contract security.

Hungary, with its population of 9.6 million, is favorably located in Central Europe, and can serve as a gateway market for Central and Southeast Europe. The country is a member of the OECD, NATO and the EU as well as the Schengen Zone. Hungary is one of the fastest-growing economies within the EU, and the government is placing increasing emphasis on innovation and knowledge-based technologies. In 2019, GDP in Hungary was approximately $161 billion USD. Due to the pandemic, Hungary’s steady GDP growth has been disrupted, and the 2020 year-end numbers are expected to reflect a GDP decline of 5% to 6%. However, most experts predict a reversal for 2021, with Hungary's GDP forecast to grow to approximately $172 billion USD.

In Hungary, information technology security is overseen by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology. As an EU member state, it follows EU laws and strategy in terms of data privacy, and is subject to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which requires companies to implement appropriate security measures to protect personal data processing operations while carrying out data protection impact assessments and high-risk personal data processing. In 2013, Hungary was one of the first countries in Central Europe to convey a national cybersecurity strategy. This strategy included a cooperative approach between state and non-state actors and initiated the establishment of the National Cybersecurity Coordination Council. Furthermore, the National Cybersecurity Forum was introduced, giving non-governmental stakeholders the opportunity to become active partners with the government during the legislative process. The Hungarian government considers the digital transformation of its economy a key driver for strong future growth, aiming to be among the first in the world to use 5G technology. Hungary scored 19th in the International Union cybersecurity rankings in 2019, rising from 51st place two years earlier.

However, during the last few years, Hungary has weathered numerous cyberattacks in various sectors. For example, in 2017, hackers inflicted damage to the Budapest transport authority as well as several Hungarian banks. The most common financial malware attacks in 2020 were cyberattacks by cryptocurrency miners. In 2019, a survey conducted among Hungarian CEOs demonstrated that the rising complexity of cyber-threats was one of the major factors influencing their companies’ cybersecurity strategies. Additionally, 46% of CEOs considered the growing concern about data protection as an influential factor. Data protection regulation and vulnerability of supply chains and business partners were also cited as influential factors in the companies’ strategies. In order to improve their IT strategies during the pandemic in 2020, the majority of Hungarian companies integrated VPN usage, worker training and endpoint protection usage, along introducing stricter user rights into their working process.

Hungary presents a great export opportunity, since the country receives high marks for cross-border trade and contract security. As the pandemic in 2020 accelerated digitization trends, demand for cybersecurity experts and reliable services and products reached an all-time high. Cybersecurity services are needed in various sectors, including energy and nuclear reactor services, financial services and agriculture. All these fields increasingly rely on connected devices and digital data. Furthermore, health care, transportation services and information technology are particularly keen to avoid being hacked, with so much at stake if there is a data breach.

Information security products and solutions created in the U.S. are held in high regard in Hungary, making this market a prime opportunity for Wisconsin exporters.