Cyberattacks saw a significant rise in 2022, mostly due to the increase in organizations going virtual to combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the rise of smaller and more agile hacker and ransomware groups, new research has said.
A report from Check Point Research (CPR) claims that, year-on-year, the number of cyberattacks grew by more than a third (38%).
Hackers, which are also increasing in numbers, are mostly targeting education organizations switching to e-learning models, healthcare organizations (which have had their hands full with the Covid-19 pandemic), and endpoints belonging to government firms. Besides, software providers building solutions for remote environments, such as online collaboration and communications tools, have also been heavily targeted.
Africa bearing the brunt
The fourth quarter of the year was the most active for hackers, with an all-time high of 1168 average weekly attack, per organization.
Africa was hit the hardest (1875 weekly attacks per firm), followed by the Asia-Pacific region (1691). At the same time, the highest growth was seen in North America (52% year-on-year), Latin America (29%), and Europe (26%).
The United States saw a 57% increase in overall cyberattacks this year, the UK 77%, and Singapore 26%.
“Many education institutions have been ill-prepared for the unexpected shift to online learning, creating ample opportunity for hackers to infiltrate networks through any means necessary,” commented Omer Dembinsky, Data Group Manager at CPR.
”Schools and universities also have the unique challenge of dealing with children or young adults, many of which use their own devices, work from shared locations, and often connect to public WiFi without thinking of the security implications.”
Sadly, the researchers don’t expect things to get any better in the future - and if anything, they’re expecting things to worsen, courtesy of the rise of ChatGPT and other AI-powered solutions.
“Unfortunately, we expect the increase in cyberattack activity to only increase. With AI technologies such as ChatGPT readily available to the public, it is possible for hackers to generate malicious code and emails at a faster, more automated pace,” Dembinsky noted.
Businesses should change the way they think about cybersecurity, the researchers concluded, saying they should shift their focus to prevention, instead of detection.
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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.