Not that anyone would have guessed otherwise, but cyberattacks spread across the internet in 2021. Researchers found 50% more attacks per week on corporate networks than in 2020, according to cybersecurity firm Check Point.
The data for 2021 comes just a few months after the company reported a 40 percent increase in cyber attacks in October global. However, the fourth quarter of 2021 was a particularly busy one for IT professionals, largely due to the Log4j vulnerabilities.
The remote code execution errors in the popular Java logger discovered last month appear to have driven that increase to 50%. According to Check Point, there were 925 cyberattacks per week per organization worldwide in the fourth quarter.
This dramatic increase, the company said, started in Q2 2020 and continues to have a devastating impact across IT and security teams. This is in line with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to remote work that has eliminated the idea of the traditional IT perimeter and placed businesses at increased risk.
The education and research sectors were hardest hit in 2021, with 1,605 weekly attacks per organization, up 75% from 2020, reports Check Point.
Government and military organizations were the second most attacked in 2021, with 1,136 weekly attacks per organization, up 47% from 2020. It was followed by the communications industry, which saw a weekly average of 1,079 cyber attacks per organization, up 51% from 2020.
The largest increase in weekly cyberattacks was reported by software vendors, with a weekly average of 536 attacks per company, an increase of 146% compared to 2020.
This reflects the need for supply chain security after multiple breaches in the build environments of several trusted IT vendors like SolarWinds and Kaseya.
The ongoing attacks on ISPs, MPSs and other third-party providers are also alarming. According to Check Point, ISPs and MSPs recorded a weekly average of 1,068 cyberattacks in 2021, up 67% from the previous year. Meanwhile, other service providers such as system integrators, value-added resellers and distributors saw weekly cyberattacks increase by 18%, but far less at 778.
This data reflects the growing trend of threat actors trying to compromise an organization that has access to enterprise customer networks rather than targeting a single organization.
Surprisingly, Africa, APAC, Latin America, Europe, and North America were, in that order, the regions worst hit. However, North America and Europe both reported an increase of at least 61% from 2020.
The company recommends maintaining good cybersecurity hygiene practices, including:
- Apply security patches in a timely manner
- Segmentation of networks
- Training employees to identify threats
- Use of IT security tools and software
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