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Cyber attacks increased 50% in 2021

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2021 recorded a record-breaking number of cyber attacks, with a 50% increase in overall attacks per week on corporate networks compared to the year before.

Last year, the world saw one of the most serious vulnerabilities on the Web, with millions of attacks per hour attempting to exploit the Log4J vulnerability in what the industry has been calling a “cyber attack pandemic”.

This was revealed by Check Point Research, which reported a 40% increase in cyber attacks in October, with one out of every 61 organisations globally affected by ransomware each week. By Q4, the upwards global trend continued, reaching an all-time peak by December, with 925 cyber attacks reported per entity each week.

Africa in the cross hairs

According to Check Point, Africa experienced the highest volume of attacks last year across five surveyed regions. Across the continent, organisations had to deal with an average of 1 582 cyber attacks every week – a 13% increase from the year before.

The APAC region suffered the second-highest volume of cyberattacks last year, with an average of 1 353 weekly attacks per organisation, followed by Latin America with 1 118. The final two regions of Europe and North America recorded the least cyber crime, with 670 and 503 attacks per organisation respectively.

With a 75% increase in attacks compared to 2020, the education and research sector experienced the highest volume of cyber crime in 2021. Out of the 16 sectors surveyed, government and military came second, followed by communications, seeing a 47% and 51% increase respectively.

Preventing Gen V attacks

The increase in attacks last year in Gen V attacks, or large scale, multi-vector attacks designed to infect multiple components of an IT infrastructure, is alarming, says Check Point. Such attacks are the biggest challenge facing security practitioners, requiring effective measures to be put in place.

The company says it is critical to prevent attacks before they happen, by employing a security architecture that enables and facilitates a single, cohesive protection infrastructure.

Also, all attack surfaces and vectors in the business must be secured via a single solution that provides broad cyber security coverage, particularly in today’s multi-hybrid environment where the perimeter is now everywhere.

Check Point also advises organisations to segment their networks, applying strong firewall and intrusion prevention safeguards between the network segments. This contains infections from propagating across the entire network.

“While there isn’t a single silver-bullet technology that can protect organisations from all threats and all threat vectors, there are many great technologies available, such as machine learning, sandboxing, anomaly detection, content disarmament, and many more. Each of these technologies can be highly effective in specific scenarios, covering specific file types or attack vectors,” says the security company.

Two key components to consider are threat extraction (file sanitisation) and threat emulation (advanced sandboxing). Each element provides distinct protection, and  when used together they offer a comprehensive solution for protection against unknown malware at the network level and directly on endpoint devices.

Finally, Check Point advises not to ignore the obvious, such as training employees on cyber hygiene, as well as patching and updating all apps and systems as soon as possible.

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