Ransomware attacks saw a huge rise in 2021

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There was a “sustained, meteoric rise” in ransomware attacks in 2021, fresh figures from SonicWall have claimed. 

In its latest Cyber Threat Report, the company reported 623.3 million ransomware attacks in 2021 across the world, a 105% increase compared to 2020. Compared to 2019, the figures are even worse, showing a rise of 232%.

“Cyberattacks become more attractive and potentially more disastrous as dependence on information technology increases,” said SonicWall President and CEO Bill Conner. “Securing information in a boundless world is a near-impossible and thankless job, especially as the boundaries of organizations are ever-expanding to limitless endpoints and networks.”

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All industries attacked

The attackers are sparing no one - government institutions, healthcare agencies, education, and retail industries, have all recorded major spikes in the number of ransomware attacks. 

Dmitriy Ayrapetov, SonicWall Vice President of Platform Architecture Dmitriy Ayrapetov, even described these attacks as “rising to a fever pitch”. 

But it’s not just ransomware that’s on the rise - everything’s spiking. Malware, which marked its third-straight year of decrease, wiped all of its losses in the second half of 2021, bringing the decrease down from 22% to just 4%, further suggesting that malware numbers may even rebound this year.

Encrypted threats rose 167% year-on-year, reaching a total of 2.5 million attacks by December 31, 2021, while cryptojacking surged 19% globally, to 97.1 million. That is, SonicWall says, the highest number in a single year, since the company started even tracking cryptojacking attacks.

Topping things off, IoT malware was up 6% year-on-year, reaching 60.1 million attacks. The silver lining is that attacks against IoT endpoints seem to be waning - they grew 218% in 2019, and 66% in 2020.

Sead Fadilpašić

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.