Over 620 Million Ransomware Attacks Detected in 2021

Corporate IT teams were faced with a triple-digit (105%) growth in ransomware attacks last year to over 623 million, according to SonicWall.

The security vendor’s newly published 2022 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report was compiled with analysis from one million security sensors in nearly 215 countries, as well as third-party sources.

Nearly all monitored threats, including IoT malware, encrypted threats and cryptojacking, rose year-on-year in 2021. However, the rise of ransomware has been particularly meteoric, surging 232% since 2019, with detections up nearly 319 million on 2020 figures.

Alongside an 1885% increase in attacks on government targets, healthcare (755%), education (152%) and retail (21%) also experienced a surge in ransomware threats.

SonicWall said it also identified a total of 442,151 never-before-seen malware variants in 2021, a 65% year-on-year increase and an average of 1211 per day.

Encrypted threats – malicious attacks hidden in HTTPS traffic – increased 167% in 2020, reaching 2.5 million by the end of the year.

Cryptojacking attacks rose 19% globally to a record high of 97.1 million, while IoT malware detections increased 6% to 60.1 million over the year, according to SonicWall.

Interestingly, the vendor also saw a rapid and significant impact from Log4Shell exploitation. Threat actors logged 142 million exploit attempts between December 11 and January 31, amounting to 2.7 million per day.

According to SonicWall, these attempts had already passed the one million mark within three days of public disclosure.

SonicWall president and CEO Bill Conner said the surge in threats has also spurred defenders into enhancing their resilience.

“Businesses outside of cybersecurity doubled their efforts to fight cybercrime. From mid-2020 to 2021, the number of CEOs who said cybersecurity risks were the biggest threat to short-term growth nearly doubled, and corporate boards are increasingly forming cybersecurity committees,” he argued.

“This has translated to increased funding: global cybersecurity spending was projected to grow 12.4% by the end of 2021, twice as fast as in 2020.”

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