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Annual SonicWall Cyber Threat Report details rise in worldwide, targeted attacks

Johannesburg, 08 Apr 2019
Read time 3min 40sec

* Record-high 10.52 billion malware attacks in 2018.
* A total of 391 689 new attack variants identified.
* Escalation of IOT attacks, 217% increase from 2017.
* 19.2% malware attacks leveraged non-standard ports.

The 2019 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report delivers an in-depth look at threat intelligence obtained from its more than 1 million sensors from around the world. Analysed by the SonicWall Capture Labs, an elite team of threat researchers, threat data collected over the course of 2018 indicates an escalation in the volume of cyber attacks and new, targeted threat tactics used by cyber criminals.

"Cyber perpetrators are not letting up in their relentless pursuit to illegally obtain data, valuable information and intellectual property," said Bill Conner, President and CEO, SonicWall. "We must be unyielding in this cyber arms race. Sharing vital threat information with our customers and partners provides them a tactical advantage. But it's also important to arm those at the forefront of this battle with this intelligence, promote global awareness of the threat landscape and continue to facilitate important dialogue around today's most prevalent cyber threats."

In the wake of vulnerabilities like Spoiler, PortSmash, Foreshadow, Meltdown and Spectre that can lead to side-channel attacks, SonicWall threat researchers have deemed processor vulnerabilities a growing security concern for both software and hardware technologies, which could have unprecedented ramifications. SonicWall's patent-pending Real-Time Deep Memory Inspection (RTDMI) identified 74 290 never-seen-before attacks in 2019. These variants were so new, unique and complex that they were without a signature at the time of discovery and included detection of multiple side-channel attacks.

As network defences increase in sophistication, so do the anonymity of attacks that now include the targeting of non-standard ports to ensure payloads are concealed on delivery. Based on a sampling of more than 700 million malware attacks, SonicWall research revealed that 19.2% of malware attacks used non-standard ports, a year-over-year increase of 8.7%.

ITWeb Security Summit 2019

Security Summit 2019 has secured eight international keynote speakers to discuss the latest trends and threats facing SA's security community. We have Graham Cluley, an independent computer security expert and public speaker, Ofir Hason, CEO & co-founder, of CyberGym in Israel, and Pete Herzog, MD of The Institute for Security and Open Methodologies (ISECOM) in Spain and many more. To find out more and to register, click here.

"The concern over security and privacy is more prevalent than ever before. Industry and government must collaborate to build a more secure environment, mitigate risk, and build citizen trust in government and consumer trust in business," said Michael Chertoff, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of The Chertoff Group, and former US Secretary of Homeland Security. "This report provides critical analysis into the evolution of cyber adversaries' threat tactics and methods. As organisations increasingly rely on metrics to understand and forecast risk, this intelligence will help enterprises and governments make informed decisions on their security investment."

PDFs and Office files have long since been an everyday operating tool for organisations of all sizes and across all industries. Cyber criminals are now leveraging these trusted files to circumvent traditional firewalls and single-engine sandboxes to deliver malware. SonicWall's multi-engine sandbox service discovered threats in over 47 000 PDFs and almost 51 000 Office files in 2018. This presents a growing problem, as most security controls cannot identify and mitigate the hidden malware contained in the files.

The annual report is a result of SonicWall Capture Labs threat researchers analysing data from over 200 000 malicious events and malware samples daily to compare and document online criminal activity.

* 10.52 billion malware attacks were blocked in 2018, the most ever recorded to date by SonicWall.
* 217.5% increase in IOT attacks in 2018.
* More than 2.8 million encrypted malware attacks were blocked in 2018, a 27% year-over-year increase from 2017.
* 11% year-over-year increase in ransomware attacks.
* 56% increase in Web app attacks.
* 3.9 trillion intrusion attempts.

To download the complete report, please visit and please remember to visit SonicWall at the ITWeb Security Summit, southern Africa's definitive conference and expo for information security, IT and business professionals at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, from 28-29 May, where the SonicWall Team can bring you through the latest findings and guide you on how you can protect your business.

Please click here to view the infographic: 2019 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report.

For more information, go to


SonicWall has been fighting the cyber criminal industry for over 27 years, defending small and medium businesses, enterprises and government agencies worldwide. Backed by research from SonicWall Capture Labs, SonicWall's award-winning, real-time breach detection and prevention solutions secure more than a million networks, and their e-mails, applications and data, in over 215 countries and territories. These organisations run more effectively and fear less about security. For more information, visit or follow the company on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

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