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A perfect storm for increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks: Report

“Criminals never let a good crisis go to waste” – Greg Foss, Senior Cybersecurity Strategist at VMware Carbon Black.

This reality has certainly been observed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2020, the FBI and Secret Service reported a wave of COVID-19-related cybercrimes and threats as criminals capitalized on widespread anxiety, confusion, and reliance on digital technology and online networks.

Here in Canada, a survey of 251 Canadian CIOs, CTOs and CISOs as part of VMware Carbon Black’s annual Global Threat Report series found that cyberattack frequency reached an unprecedented level and that attackers are using a wide scope of tactics to extort, disrupt and permeate organizations. In fact, 99% said attack volume has increased, while 100% of those surveyed said their business has suffered at least one breach in the last 12 months.

This sixth edition of the Global Incident Response Threat Report paints a picture of this evolving threat landscape, discusses the impact of COVID-19 and the U.S. presidential election, and provides some best practices for IR and security teams looking to fight back. The key survey findings from IR and cybersecurity professionals include:

  • Incidents of counter IR are at an all-time high, occurring in 82 per cent of IR engagements – suggesting the prevalence of increasingly sophisticated, often nation-state attackers, who have the resources and cyber savvy to colonize victims’ networks. Destructive attacks, which are often the final stage of counter IR has also surged, with respondents estimating victims experience them 54 per cent of the time.
  • 55 per cent of cyberattacks target the victim’s digital infrastructure for the purpose of island hopping. The pandemic has left organizations increasingly vulnerable to such attacks as their employees have shifted to remote work – and less secure home networks and devices.

  • Custom malware is now being used in 50 per cent of attacks reported by respondents. This demonstrates the scale of the dark web, where such malware and malware services can be purchased to empower traditional criminals, spies and terrorists, many of whom do not have the sophisticated resources to execute these attacks.
  • Cybersecurity remained a top concern during the U.S. election as nation-state attackers posed a significant threat. 73 per cent of respondents believed there would be a foreign influence on the 2020 U.S. presidential election, and 60 per cent believed it will be influenced by a cyberattack.

To dive deeper into these findings, download the full report here. For more on the 2020 cybersecurity landscape and some of the biggest pandemic-fueled trends and threats identified by VMware experts this year, visit the VMware Carbon Black blog.

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