| 22 April 2024, Monday |

Ransomware attacks surge by 151% in first half of 2021 as global digital economy thrives

According to a World Economic Forum report, the number of ransomware attacks increased by 151% globally in the first half of 2021 as cyber criminals sought to tap into a growing global digital economy and exploit people and businesses seeking to digitise their operations in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In terms of volume and severity, the Geneva-based organization’s Global Cyber Security Outlook 2022, issued on Tuesday, assessed 2021 to be a “unprecedented” year for cyber crime.

The cost of breaches for enterprises alone escalated to an average of $3.6 million per event as corporations hastily digitised to assure business continuity in the midst of the epidemic.

“Ransomware attacks disrupted our critical services around the world – from stopping operations in meat production to manufacturing and threatening citizens’ energy supplies… 80% of the forum’s Cyber Security Leadership Community members stressed that ransomware is becoming a danger and threat to public safety,” Algirde Pipikaite, the World Economic Forum’s cyber security strategy lead, told The National in an exclusive interview.

Cybercrime is one of the most serious challenges in a quickly evolving digital environment, with bad actors keeping up with new technological breakthroughs to develop more sophisticated hacking tactics, resulting in economic, financial, and reputational harm.

The Planet Economic Forum already identified similar technological risks in its Global Risks Report released last week, listing problems such as digital inequality and cyber security failure as key immediate and medium-term dangers to the world. It emphasized that the climate catastrophe is the “world’s most significant risk.”

According to a report conducted by the research firm Cybersecurity Ventures, cyber criminal activities are expected to cause $6 trillion in global losses by 2021.

If it were a nation, it would have the world’s third-largest economy, after only the United States and China.

The issue will only worsen from there: by 2025, illegal cyber activity is anticipated to cost the globe over $10.5 trillion, a 250% increase from the $3 trillion spent in 2015.

That would make it the largest transfer of economic wealth in history, far more than the damage caused by natural catastrophes in a year and far more profitable than the worldwide trade in all major illegal narcotics combined, according to the report.

Ransomware charges alone may reach $265 billion by 2031, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, with a new assault occurring every two seconds as bad actors continually and steadily enhance their mode of operation to keep up with technical improvements.

According to the report, about nine out of ten cyber executives are concerned about the cyber resilience of SMEs in their ecosystem.

In 2020, attackers exploited software credentials from US companies such as Microsoft, VMware, and SolarWinds, and used them to infiltrate several US federal departments, including defense, state, homeland security, treasury, and commerce, while also affecting the UK government, the European Parliament, and Nato.

According to the WEF, cyber events in a borderless digital ecosystem might have far-reaching impacts across contexts, increasing possible adverse outcomes and posing greater obstacles to efforts to mitigate the damage.

Attacks against digital supply chain organizations can have a detrimental impact on downstream firms and their operations.

  • The National News