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Covid-19 sees rapid cloud adoption, rise in double-extortion ransomware

Rapid cloud adoption, targeted remote working, double extortion ransomware attacks and mobile targets are amongst the key cyber security trends resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new research from Check Point. 

Check Point Research (CPR), the Threat Intelligence arm of Check Point, has published its 2021 Security Report. 

The report reveals the key attack vectors and techniques observed by CPR researchers as criminal, political and nation-state threat actors exploited the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to target organisations across all sectors. 

It also gives cyber-security professionals and C-Level executives the information they need to protect their organisations against these advanced fifth-generation cyber-attacks and threats.

The Check Point Research 2021 Security Report found: 

  • Cloud adoption races ahead of security: 2020 saw organisations’ digital transformation programs advance by over five years in response to the pandemic, but public cloud security is still a major concern for 75% of enterprises. Also, over 80% of enterprises found their existing security tools don’t work at all or have only limited functions in the cloud, showing that cloud problems will continue into 2021.
  • Remote working is targeted: hackers ramped up ‘thread hijacking’ attacks on remote workers to steal data or infiltrate networks using the Emotet and Qbot trojans, which impacted 24% of organisations globally. Attacks against remote access systems such as RDP and VPN also increased sharply.
  • Double-extortion ransomware attacks rise: in Q3 2020, nearly half of all ransomware incidents involved the threat of releasing data stolen from the target organisation. On average, a new organisation becomes a victim of ransomware every 10 seconds worldwide.
  • Attacks on healthcare sector become an epidemic: monthly cyber attacks per healthcare organisation jumped 37% in the last 12 months. In Q4 2020, CPR reported that cyber-attacks (especially ransomware attacks) on hospitals had increased by 45% worldwide, as criminals believe they are more likely to pay ransoms due to the pressures from COVID-19 cases. 
  • Mobiles are moving targets: 46% of organisations had at least one employee download a malicious mobile application, which threatens their networks and data in 2020.  The increased use of mobiles during global lockdowns has also driven growth in banking and information-stealing mobile Trojans.

“Businesses globally surprised themselves with the speed of their digital initiatives in 2020 - it’s estimated that digital transformation was advanced by up to seven years," says Dorit Dor, vice president of products, Check Point Software. 

"But at the same time, threat actors and cyber criminals also changed their tactics so that they could take advantage of these changes, and the pandemic’s disruption, with surges in attacks across all sectors.

“We need to act now to stop this cyber pandemic spreading out of control. Organisations need to vaccinate their hyper-connected networks to prevent these damaging cyber-attacks that cause so much disruption.”

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