Partly due to Log4j exploits, highest number of cyber attacks ever in 2021

Partly due to Log4j exploits, highest number of cyber attacks ever in 2021

The number of cyberattacks per week rose by 50% in 2021 compared to a year earlier, cybersecurity researchers say. In the fourth quarter, there was a record high of 925 attacks per week per organization worldwide. This is reported by researchers from Check Point, a multinational IT security company. They present their findings in a blog post.

Log4j exploits responsible for fourth quarter increase

Check Point researchers attribute the fourth quarter 2021 numbers to the “millions of attacks per hour trying to exploit the Log4j vulnerability.” This refers to the issues discovered in December in the widely used Java log library of the Apache Software Foundation.

This vulnerability was described as the most critical vulnerability of the past decade. In the Netherlands, this led, among other things, to crisis consultations between the National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC) and key cybersecurity officers. It was the first time such consultation on how to deal with a security crisis had taken place.

Excluding the fourth quarter where the Log4j vulnerability was discovered, 2021 was already on track to break records in the number of cyberattacks. Check Point reported a 40% increase in October 2021. The IT security company added that 1 in 61 organizations worldwide experienced ransomware attacks every week.

Education sector hardest hit in 2021

Check Point’s research also provides insight into which sectors and regions have been hit hard by cyber-attacks. For example, the education and research sector experienced the highest number of attacks; 75% more than in 2020. In this sector, there were an average of 1,605 cyberattacks per organization per week.

The government/military sector was in second place with 1,136 cyberattacks per week. This is an increase of 47% compared to the previous year. The communications industry experienced 1,079 attacks every week, which was 51% more than the number in 2020.

Africa and the Asia-Pacific region most frequently targeted

The survey also found that Africa was the most affected region last year. The region suffered an average of 1,582 attacks per week per organization. This is an increase of 13% compared to the previous year.

The Asia-Pacific region followed in second, with an average of 1,353 attacks per week per organization. This was a 25% increase from 2020. The report also included data for other regions:

  • Latin America: Facing 1,118 weekly attacks, up 38% from 2020.
  • Europe: 670 weekly cyber attacks, up 68% from the previous year.
  • North America: Average of 503 attacks per week, an increase of 61%.

Check Point’s Recommendations for Improving Cybersecurity

In the report, Check Point points out that everything is a potential target. That’s why it’s crucial to secure everything. According to Check Point, organizations need to find a single solution that can secure every potential attack point. Just securing email, web browsing, servers and storage are not enough, according to the company. This is in fact just the basics.

“Mobile apps, cloud and external storage are essential, as is monitoring connected mobile and endpoint devices, and your growing possession of IoT devices,” said Check Point. “Workloads, containers and serverless applications on multi- and hybrid cloud environments should be part of the checklist at all times.”

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