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COVID-19 leads to a year of cybersecurity challenges

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Over the past 12 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has created the perfect environment for cybercrime to flourish, according to Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report.

The report analyzed 29,207 quality incidents, of which 5,258 were confirmed breaches. With large numbers of people working remotely, phishing attacks increased by 11 percent, while attacks using ransomware rose by six percent.

Breach data shows that 61 percent involved credential data (95 percent of organizations suffering credential stuffing attacks had between 637 and 3.3 billion malicious login attempts through the year). 85 percent of breaches involved a human element, while over 80 percent of breaches were discovered by external parties.

Using breach simulations researchers found the median financial impact of a breach is $21,659, with 95 percent of incidents falling between $826 and $653,587.

The report also highlights the challenges facing businesses as they move more of their business functions to the cloud — with attacks on web applications representing 39 percent of all breaches.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on many of the security challenges organizations are currently facing,” says Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business. “As the number of companies switching business-critical functions to the cloud increases, the potential threat to their operations may become more pronounced, as malicious actors look to exploit human vulnerabilities and leverage an increased dependency on digital infrastructures.”

The report includes detailed analysis of 12 industries, and shows that, while security remains a challenge across the board, there are significant differences across sectors. For example, in financial and insurance industries, 83 percent of data compromised in breaches was personal data, whilst in professional, scientific and technical services only 49 percent was personal.

There are interesting regional differences, in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region many breaches were caused by financially motivated attackers, phishing employees for credentials, and then using those to gain access to mail accounts and web application servers.

In Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) basic web application attacks, system intrusion, and social engineering continue to be a problem. While North America is often the target of financially motivated actors searching for money or easily monetizable data. Social Engineering, hacking and malware continue to be the favored tools utilized by actors in this region.

You can find out more and get the full report on the Verizon site.

Image Credit: Clokair / Shutterstock

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