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Education and government sectors suffered most cyberattacks in 2021

Author: William S.

Due to lesser investment into cybersecurity, some industries are more vulnerable to cybercriminal attacks. Other industries highly targeted by hackers possess valuable information, which could be exploited by the attacker or even used at the state level. According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, education and government organizations suffered most cyberattacks in 2021. At the same time, software vendors have experienced the largest growth in attacks compared to 2020. In addition, cybercriminals targeted corporate networks the most with Botnet attacks.

The data is based on Check Point Software’s Cyber Security Report 2022. The research reveals the key attack vectors and techniques cybercriminals used over the past year. Highly sophisticated supply chain attack methods and Log4j vulnerability exploits made thousands of businesses open to potential breaches.

Education and research organizations were the most targeted industry in 2021, with an average of 1,605 weekly cyberattacks. Universities had to suspend classes due to suffered attacks, which impacted students, professors, and other staff members. Cybercriminals can use stolen, sensitive student and employee data for their benefit.

The government and military sector rank second with an average of 1,136 weekly cyberattacks. Government agencies hold tons of highly confidential data, which state-sponsored hackers can target to acquire desired information. As government institutions usually are responsible for many other industries, an attack on this sector could have significant repercussions.

Communications organizations experienced an average of 1,079 attacks per week throughout 2021. At the same time, internet service providers and managed service providers suffered an average of 1,068 cyberattacks every week.

On the other hand, software vendors averaged just 536 cyberattacks. However, the average of attacks has significantly grown in the industry by 146% compared to 2020. The rise in threats against software vendors relates to the growing trend of software supply chain attacks observed during 2021.

Corporate networks under botnet attacks

Cybercriminals choose different attack methods based on what they are trying to accomplish. Some attackers might be just after sensitive information, which they would sell or exploit otherwise, while others are looking for direct profit by infecting your devices with cryptominers.

Botnet attacks accounted for 31% of threats against corporate networks in 2021. A botnet is a group of malware-infected internet-connected devices controlled by a single operator. Cybercriminals use such compromised devices to launch large-scale attacks to disrupt services, steal personal data and gain unauthorized access to critical systems.

Info stealers were responsible for 21% of cyberattacks targeted at corporate networks. As the name implies, info stealers are Trojan malware designed to gather data from the system. Such malware usually collects your credentials or logs users' keystrokes, revealing confidential information.

Cryptominers accounted for 19% of attacks launched at corporate networks. Cryptocurrency miners are malware that uses a significant amount of GPU and CPU resources, causing your computer to run slower than usual. Cybercriminals can produce profits by infecting their victims’ PCs with miners.

Banking malware targeted 19% of corporate networks in 2021. At the same time, mobile malware was responsible for 14% of cyberattacks against company systems. Finally, cybercriminals launched ransomware attacks at 8% of corporate networks. After shocking large-scale cyberattacks in 2021, businesses must proactively react to the growing risks. Many governments have already expanded their cybersecurity budgets to deal with cyber threats and so should organizations. One successful cyberattack could cause devastating consequences to a company.


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