By Dmitry Dontov, CEO and founder of Spin Technology, a cloud data protection company based in Palo Alto.
2020 was a year like no other. The global pandemic has changed how people live and interact with one another. For businesses, supporting social distancing has meant a significant shift to a remote workforce, and many businesses were not prepared for cyberattacks. In a recent study, Malwarebytes found that 20% of companies surveyed said they had faced a security breach as a result of a remote worker.
But what businesses are the most vulnerable? What types of cyberattacks have been prevalent during 2020? What about cybersecurity in a post-pandemic world?
Cyberattacks In 2020: The Biggest News And Statistics
It seems that cyberattacks are becoming more commonplace, especially during a global pandemic. News headlines break almost weekly about the latest victim of a massive data breach or cyberattack. Cybercriminals are doing their best to take advantage of the very unusual events that have transpired worldwide over the course of 2020. Several massive cyberattacks unfolded last year, and these are among the most notable:
Marriott hotels: On March 31, 2020, Marriott released news that an “unexpected amount of guest information may have been accessed using the login credentials of two employees at a franchise property.” The data breach resulted in the compromise of 5.2 million guest accounts.
MORE FOR YOU
World Health Organization: Between March and April, hackers targeted the World Health Organization (WHO) and leaked staff credentials. The WHO hack was part of a large target of various organizations who were busy combatting the coronavirus pandemic.
Magellan Health: In April 2020, attackers carried out a sophisticated social engineering attack on Magellan Health, a Fortune 500 insurance company. Months after the attack, the number of affected victims is estimated to be around 1.7 million. The data that attackers exfiltrated contains information of both internal and external customers.
Blackbaud: Around May 2020, hackers compromised Blackbaud, a global technology company specializing in providing software for organizations involved in charity work and education, with a ransomware attack. Blackbaud discovered and stopped a ransomware attack that accessed a subset of their internal systems. The fallout and exact scope of the attack are still evolving. At first, Blackbaud said hackers did not compromise financial data. However, the company later admitted that bank account information and users’ passwords were among the details stolen during the attack. Blackbaud paid a ransom to stop data from being disclosed.
Garmin: On July 23, Garmin, a company known for fitness tracking devices and GPS technology, was compromised with a massive ransomware attack at the hands of hacking group Evil Corp. The attackers used the WastedLocker ransomware to hold Garmin’s technology infrastructure hostage. Garmin may have paid upwards of $10 million ransom to Evil Corp to regain access to systems.
What Businesses Are The Most Vulnerable?
No one is immune to the attention of cybercriminals who may target any size, type or business location. However, we can observe specific trends with cyberattacks in 2020. For one, cyberattacks such as those using ransomware are growing in sophistication and scale. With ransomware attacks in 2020 during the pandemic, mature hacking groups like Evil Corp are going after large businesses, including Fortune 500 companies.
Cybercriminals have their sights set on “big fish” in various industries, as seen with attacks on Garmin, Blackbaud, Magellan Health and others. However, SMBs and “mom and pop shops” should not let their guard down because smaller and less mature hacking groups also target these organizations. No one is excluded from the risk of a cyberattack.
Ransomware attacks in 2020, tallied by BlackFog, have heavily targeted the following industries (ordered by most targets):
And what about ransomware targets by country? BlackFog has tracked reported ransomware attacks since January 2020. Here are their findings by target country:
• United States: 57%.
• Australia: 7%.
• Canada: 6%.
• United Kingdom: 5%.
• Germany: 4%.
• France, Japan and Italy: 2%.
• The rest of the world combined: 14%.
What Types Of Cyberattacks Were Prevalent In 2020?
• Phishing emails and malicious Covid-19-themed sites.
• Cloud-based attacks on SaaS offerings (Microsoft Teams, etc.).
• Direct attacks on remote workers.
Cybercriminals used the desire to keep up with the latest Covid-19 information to lure individuals into visiting malicious websites and falling victim to phishing campaigns. Cybersecurity experts found that some 4,000 coronavirus domains were registered after January 2020 alone. Covid-19-themed phishing scams are rampant as well.
By September 2020, note the following statistics:
• Companies have seen an 80% increase in cyberattacks.
• Attacks on cloud-based environments rose 630% between January and April.
• Phishing attacks rose 600% since the end of February.
• Cyberattacks on remote workers were up to five times what they were prior to the pandemic.
Specific to ransomware, note the following:
• Ransomware attacks have increased by 40% to 199.7 million cases globally in the third quarter.
• The US observed 145.2 million ransomware hits in the third quarter of 2020, an increase of 139%.
Cybersecurity In A Post-Pandemic World: What You Need To Know
As we begin 2021 with the benefits of Covid-19 vaccines looming on the horizon, organizations will again face necessary adjustments. Businesses will need to continue to evaluate their cybersecurity stance during any transition or changes made in the post-pandemic world.
One thing is for sure: Cybercrime is a booming business and has accelerated with the pandemic. Cybersecurity experts predict that in 2021, there will be a cyberattack every 11 seconds, costing the global economy $6.1 trillion annually. Even if the world emerges from the pandemic in 2021, cyberattacks will continue and increase.
We can safely make the following predictions in regards to cybersecurity in 2021:
• Cybersecurity will be increasingly important.
• Organizations must bolster cloud software as a service (SaaS) security.
• Risks to data from ransomware and other threats will increase.
• Organizations will need to continue to bolster remote work security.
• As shown by the pandemic, there is no longer a network perimeter (a zero-trust environment is essential).
It’s never been more important than now to protect yourself, your business and your customers from cybercrime.