Cyber Warfare Now: Explaining the Global Threat Landscape in 2022

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2021 was a very difficult year for the cybersecurity sector, with cybercrime spanning nation-state actors, lone wolves and advanced persistent threat (APT) groups. But who are the players, what are their tools, and how are their tactics changing?

Last year there were several high-profile breaches like Solar Winds, Colonial Pipeline and dozens of others that created severe economic and security-related issues on a global scale. Ransomware in particular made a huge impact targeting tons of small and medium-sized businesses. Looking at the global threat landscape, we saw how easily critical infrastructure and supply chain security weaknesses can be targeted and exploited at an alarming rate. We also witnessed the cascading effect that a single breach on even one company’s cybersecurity platform can have on many other businesses.

Considering all the ongoing cybersecurity challenges in the world today, businesses need to stay as proactive as possible. However, cybercriminals are only getting more advanced in 2022. The global-scale internet offers a public freeway for furthering their ill intent, whether it be financial securities, government influence, or political unrest.

Cybercriminals are upping their game in 2022

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Swift transformation in the digital age has brought consumers great convenience with mobile apps and e-commerce in general, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Cloud computing has flourished into a massive digital platform housing more remote working environments online than ever before. As such, the use of video conferencing services has already grown exponentially around the world.

As the use of these digital tools increases with time, so does the amount of data produced. Estimates from the World Bank reveal that by the end of 2022 the total annual internet traffic will have increased by about 50% from 2020, reaching approximately 4.8 zettabytes. As such, the pandemic has shown us how closely interconnected all businesses are and how increased digitalization has created new opportunities for cybercriminals and cyberattacks. In other alarming statistics to consider, corporate networks experienced 50% more cyberattack attempts per week in 2021 than in previous years, and that number will only grow in 2022. This spike is partially due to Log4j – which helped cyber attackers boost their attempts to an all-time high in Q4 2021.

Ransomware, black markets, and the geopolitical forces behind them

A growing concern for 2022 are the increasing number of ransomware gangs on the loose. Ransomware is typically a type of malware, or malicious software that blocks access to data, programs, and computer files until the victim finances the attacker. Ransomware gangs have moved on from single attacks on individuals to confrontations with big companies having to pay out sometimes millions of dollars to get their data back.

On the black market cryptocurrencies can be traded anonymously which is a perfect setup for cybercriminals. In 2021, the Colonial Pipeline attack was a notorious example of this type of ransom method. Bloomberg reported that the FBI was able to recoup most of the losses from the Russian-based hacking group called REvil, allegedly blamed for the attack. Looking at cryptocurrency as a resource for cybercriminals, it is believed as much as $5.2 billion worth of outgoing Bitcoin transactions were directly tied to ransomware payouts last year involving the top 10 most popular ransomware variants.

Back in 2020, Amazon was able to prevent the largest distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyber-attack ever recorded with its AWS Shield protection service. Even though Amazon was able to mitigate this 2.3 Tbps DDoS attack at its peak, e-commerce security experts proclaimed the event as “a warning we should not ignore.” In 2022, it’s not only e-commerce cybersecurity that we need to worry about. Political unrest between the superpowers has already prompted media outlets to make predictions of a “Cyber Cold War.” Cybercriminal activities are still unpredictable and difficult to track, especially on the geopolitical front, but every incident provides lessons for security teams to strengthen their defenses in a number of ways.

Threats actors are advancing, and your business should too

Fortunately, many smaller to medium-sized businesses are capable of predicting their vulnerabilities before real disaster strikes, but some organizations and government entities might not be so lucky. Securicon’s seasoned experts can identify the secure network and system architecture needed to protect your assets. To learn how Securicon can help your business, visit our contact page.