As per the Cybersecurity Ventures Report, we can expect damage from ransomware attacks to exceed $20 billion by the end of the year.
The most recent Acronis Report and Cybersecurity Ventures reports offer an in-depth analysis of global cybersecurity trends – and things aren't looking good! The number of threats and the magnitude of the damage keeps increasing year on year, sparing no company or individual – managed service providers (MSPs) being especially vulnerable.
2021 findings and trends
2021 has not been a great year for cybersecurity trends, not only for individuals and organizations, but for entire countries as well. The US, Germany, and Canada were officially the most attacked countries, however, the results were similarly disquieting in other parts of the world.
Managed service providers are a high-risk group, due to the great variety of management tools they use daily, which offer multiple potential avenues for attackers to exploit. For that reason, they are becoming more and more vulnerable to supply chain attacks. These attacks on MSPs are severe and far-reaching, because the attackers gain access to both businesses and their clients. One successful attack, therefore, could impact hundreds or even thousands of small businesses.
As per the Acronis report, only 20% of companies did not report any cyber attacks in the second half of 2021, significantly less than in the last year when 32% of companies reported the same. On the other hand, there was a whopping 23% increase in phishing emails and a 40% increase in malware emails between the second and third quarter of 2021 – which are all clear indications that attacks have increased in frequency across the board.
Predictions for 2022
So now that we know what this year has been like, what will next year bring us? Will things get better or worse for us?
What can you do to protect yourself?
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about tremendous changes in all segments of our lives, but primarily in our work environment. The digital revolution happened decades ago, but it seems like it wasn't until recently that we really started noticing the impact it has in our day-to-day lives – remote jobs are here to stay, 5G and smart homes, online banking, online shopping, online everything for better or worse.
The second half of 2021 didn't bring any groundbreaking cyber protection solutions. It just confirmed our worst fears, with attack numbers climbing and more soft spots in cybersecurity being discovered. As vulnerabilities increase, and more avenues for attack are revealed, it's clear that there's little time left for companies to procrastinate about their cybersecurity. It's time to act!
What can each of us do? Luckily, there are protective measures that can reduce your risks of suffering a cyberattack. Here are some things to think about:
We can't emphasize how important is to keep your operating system and apps up to date. Many cyber-attacks succeed because of system vulnerabilities that could have been fixed by applying available updates. No application is perfect, but updates are there to make it run more smoothly and make it more secure, so make sure you apply them!
Build up your defenses
The next thing that you should do is invest in one of the best antivirus applications out there. Despite the general misconception, good antivirus protection doesn't have to cost a fortune. There are some excellent antivirus offerings on the market that are priced very reasonably and are very reliable.
Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network redirects and encrypts your online traffic. It is a great protective tool that can help you browse more securely and unblock a variety of online content. Again, you don't have to opt for the most expensive software on the market to stay protected. Instead, choose one of the best VPNs and surf safely without breaking the bank. Most of these have the amazing split-tunnel function, so you can separate your local traffic (online banking, work-related social platforms) from the VPN traffic (work-related browsing and research), which means you can even use them at work.
Don't forget (about) passwords
The time of weak, repetitive, and predictable passwords is long behind us. We should use unique and strong passwords for every account that we have and even avoid saving and writing them down. To help with this, there's password manager software that can help you generate and remember all the different passwords. The easiest and safest way to create a strong password is by using a string of long phrases, mixed with characters and numbers that you can remember.
Last but not least – try to always stay alert. We are not saying you should doubt everything... well, okay, we kind of are. Remember, malicious content has to come from somewhere, and emails, messages, social platforms, etc., are the most common channels for attack. Even if you've taken all the precautionary measures, you still need to be careful – some of the more advanced malware can still work its way to bypass all of them.
Keep in mind that identity theft is on the rise as well, and if something seems fishy to you, well... that's probably because it is.
Don't ignore warning signals
Never open suspicious messages and links, or unusual emails that you're not expecting to receive. Even if the sender is somebody that you know, but everything else in the email seems off, don't click on any links in the email, and don't follow any instructions that seem odd or out of character. Instead, contact the person whose name is on the email/text via some other channel (preferably phone), and double-check that they are the true sender.