Remote workers and managed service providers targeted by cyber attackers, and data exfiltration outpaces data encryption
Acronis, a global leader in cyber protection, today released its 2020 Acronis Cyberthreats Report, its in-depth review of the current threat landscape and projections for the coming year. Based on the protection and security challenges that were amplified by the shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, Acronis warns 2021 will bring aggressive cybercrime activity as criminals pivot their attacks from data encryption to data exfiltration.
Ransomware continues to be the leading threat, with Maze ransomware accounting for nearly half of all known cases in 2020. Yet the Acronis Cyberthreats Report points to a growing trend of cybercriminals trying to maximise their financial gain. Not content to collect ransoms to decrypt infected data, they steal proprietary – and sometimes embarrassing – data before encrypting it. They then threaten to publicly release the stolen files if the victim doesn’t pay up.
Acronis reports that more than 1,000 companies had their data leaked following a ransomware attack in 2020 – a trend that is expected to accelerate in the coming year, overtaking encryption as the criminals’ primary tactic.
“More than any year in recent memory, 2020 posed a tremendous number of challenges to IT professionals, organisations, and the service providers who support them,” noted Stas Protassov, Acronis co-founder and Technology President. “What we’ve seen is how quickly bad actors are adjusting their attacks to the new IT landscape. By analysing the activity, attacks, and trends we’ve detected and clearly presenting our findings, we hope to empower our partners and help the IT community at large prepare for the threats on the horizon.”
Takeaways of the Acronis Cyberthreats Report
Among the other notable findings in the Acronis Cyberthreats Report include:
- Attacks against remote workers will increase. While 31% of global companies reported daily cyberattacks in 2020, the frequency of attacks targeting their remote workers is projected to increase in 2021, since the defences for systems outside of the corporate network are more easily compromised, giving bad actors access to that organisation’s data.
- Ransomware will look for new victims, become more automated. Rather than continuing to cast a wide net, ransomware attackers will focus on targets that provide a bigger return on their efforts. Breaking into one network to steal data from several companies is more profitable than attacking individual organisations. So, while small businesses will still be targeted, cloud environments and organisations like managed service providers will become more valued targets because their systems can provide access to the data of multiple clients.
- Legacy solutions struggle to keep up. Blocking the new malware has rendered traditional antimalware solutions obsolete, as they cannot keep pace with the increased sophistication and frequency of new threats. The average lifespan of a malware sample in 2020 was just 3.4 days. As attackers continue to utilise automation, the number of malware samples will continue to climb. Organisations will need to find new approaches to protection that are agile and designed to stay ahead of new threats. Simple standalone security and backup solutions will no longer be enough.
Evolving responses to evolving threats
“When it comes to existing solutions and strategies, the current trends in cyberattacks all show that traditional cybersecurity is failing – usually because of weak technologies and human error, which are both avoidable,” added Candid Wüest. the VP of Cyber Protection Research at Acronis and co-author of the report. “Just as cybercriminals are evolving their attacks, organisations need to advance their protection and security. Comprehensive cyber protection solutions offer the integration and automation that eliminate complexity, optimise performance, and streamline recovery when a successful attack inevitably occurs.”
Acronis has been a pioneer in cyber protection, which is the integration of data protection, cybersecurity, and endpoint management. To protect all data, applications and systems, Acronis solutions are designed to address the Five Vectors of Cyber Protection – safety, accessibility, privacy, authenticity, and security (SAPAS).
Creating the 2020 Acronis Cyberthreats Report
The 2020 Acronis Cyberthreats Report is based on examining attack and threat data collected by the company’s global network of Acronis Cyber Protection Operations Centres (CPOCs), which monitor and research cyberthreats 24/7. Malware data was collected by more than 100,000 unique endpoints around the world running Acronis Cyber Protect, which launched in May 2020, and covers attacks targeting endpoints detected between June and October.
The full report provides in-depth insights into the top security/threat trends the CPOCs observed in 2020, a review of malware families and related statistics, a deep dive into ransomware’s most dangerous groups, the vulnerabilities that contribute to successful attacks, and Acronis’ complete security forecast and recommendations for 2021.