With global cybercrime damages predicted to cost up to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, not getting caught in the landslide is a matter of taking in the right information and acting on it quickly.
We collected and organized over 300 up-to-date cybercrime statistics that highlight:
- The magnitude of cybercrime operations and impact
- The attack tactics bad actors used most frequently in the past year
- How user behavior is changing and how it… isn’t
- What cybersecurity professionals are doing to counteract these threats
- How different countries fare in terms of fighting off blackhat hackers and other nation states
- What can be done to keep data and assets safe from scams and attacks.
Dig into these surprising (and sometimes mind-boggling) internet security statistics to understand what’s going on globally and discover how several countries fare in protecting themselves.
The article includes plenty of visual representations of the most important facts and figures in information security today.
Headline cybercrime statistics for 2019-2021
With the threat landscape always changing, it’s important to understand how cyber attacks are evolving and which security controls and types of training work.
- There were137.7 million new malware samples in 2020 (AV-Test), a slight reduction from the 144.91 samples in 2019. As of June 2021, there have been 92.45 million new samples, so we may well see a new high before the end of the year.
- In 2019, 93.6% of malware observed was polymorphic, meaning it has the ability to constantly change its code to evade detection (2020 Webroot Threat Report)
- Almost 50% of business PCs and 53% of consumer PCs that got infected once were re-infected within the same year (2021 Webroot Threat Report)
There were 137.7 million new malware samples in 2020 (AV-Test) and we’re already at 92.45 million new samples in 2021.
- A 2007 study found that malicious hackers were previously attacking computers and networks at a rate of one attack every 39 seconds. The Internet Crime Complaint Center’s 2020 report found that there were 465,177 reported incidents that year, which works out at one successful attack every 1.12 seconds. Notably, this doesn’t account for attempted attacks or those that went unreported. (University of Maryland)
- 86.2% of surveyed organizations were aﬀected by a successful cyberattack (CyberEdge Group 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report)
CyberEdge Group 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report
More than three-quarters of IT security professionals believe a successful cyber attack is imminent in 2021.
CyberEdge 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report
- Colombia was the hardest-hit country by cyberattacks in 2019, with 93.9% of all surveyed companies being compromised at least once last year (CyberEdge 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report)
CyberEdge Group 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report
Naturally, these facts and figures are just the tip of the iceberg. The deeper we dive into the wealth of information cybersecurity reports now offer, the clearer and more unnerving the picture becomes.
Ransomware statistics 2021
Ransomware infection rates saw a huge increase in 2020, largely due to the increased importance of online learning and teleworking platforms.
- US ransomware attacks cost an estimated $915 million in 2020. (Emsisoft)
- Almost 200 million ransomware attacks occurred in the first nine months of 2020 representing a large increase over the previous year. (SonicWall)
- A ransomware attack in early 2020 on the New Orleans city government cost the city upwards of $7 million. (SC Magazine)
- In February 2020, a ransomware attack cost Denmark-based company ISS upwards of $50 million. (GlobeNewswire)
- Since 2016, a total of 172 ransomware attacks have cost US healthcare organizations $21 billion. (Comparitech)
- One out of five Americans has dealt with a ransomware attack. (The Harris Poll)
- Ransomware is involved in around 17 percent of malware security incidents, down from 27% in 2020. (Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report)
- Ransomware payments fianlly began to decline Q4 2020. The average sits at $154,108 which is down 34% over the previous quarter. (Coveware’s Q4 2020 Ransomware Marketplace report)
- The average downtime due to a ransomware attack was 21 days in Q4 of 2020 compared to 19 days in Q3 2020. (Coveware’s Q4 2020 Ransomware Marketplace report)
Coveware’s Q4 2020 Ransomware Marketplace report
Downtime is still the most dangerous aspect of a ransomware attack, and one of the reasons data exfiltration should not present as much of a challenge to victims as business interruption.
Coveware’s Q3 2020 Ransomware Marketplace report
- Ransomware attacks can be extremely costly. For example, an attack involving the NotPetya ransomware cost shipping firm Maersk more than $200 million.
- In 2021, the average global cost to remediate a ransomware attack rose to $1.5 million, more than double the previous year’s average ($761,106). (Sophos The State of Ransomware 2021)
- Organizations in India, Austria, and the US are most likely to be hit by ransomware attacks. In India, the prevalence is especially high with 68% of organizations dealing with ransomware. Austria has the next highest rate at 57%. (Sophos The State of Ransomware 2021)
- The number of mobile ransomware Trojans continues to decline. Kaspersky saw 23,294 in Q2 2019 and just 20,708 in 2020. (Kaspersky Labs)
- Iran, Algeria, and Bangladesh top the list of countries attacked by mobile ransomware in terms of share of users. (Kaspersky Labs)
What makes the ransomware problem worse is that nation-states are involved. Investigations proved that the WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware attack campaigns were orchestrated by nation-state actors. They may have started in 2017, but their effect continued into 2020. The objective was to destroy information or cause distractions rather than to derive financial benefits.
Datto’s Global State of the Channel Ransomware Report 2020 shows that ransomware is still a huge cause for concern for any type of organization, particularly SMBs. Datto surveyed more than 200 Managed Service Providers (MSPs), partners, and clients across the globe. Here are some of the key findings:
- 89 percent of MSPs state that ransomware is the most common threat to SMBs.
- 64 percent reported attacks against clients in the first half of 2019, representing an 8% increase year-on-year. However, only 5% report multiple attacks in one day, down from 15% in 2018.
- Two out of five SMBs have fallen victim to a ransomware attack.
One somewhat alarming disconnect was revealed in the report:
90% of MSPs are “very concerned” about the ransomware threat and 24% report their SMB clients feel the same.
Datto’s Global State of the Channel Ransomware Report 2020
Datto’s Global State of the Channel Ransomware Report 2020
- Phishing emails, lack of training, and weak passwords are some of the top causes of ransomware attacks.
- Downtime costs increased by 75 percent year-over-year.
- The average cost of downtime is 24 times higher than the average ransom amount.
- On the bright side, having Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) solutions in place is a huge plus. Three out of four MSPs said that clients with BCDR solutions recovered from an attack within 24 hours.
- The vast majority of MSPs (75%) admitted that they too are increasingly targeted in cyberattacks involving ransomware.
According to Kaspersky, 16.4 million ransomware attacks were blocked in Q3 2020. This was an increase of over 2 million from the 14.2 blocked in Q2 2020.
While ransomware infection rates are declining, companies are continously choose to pay the ransom. More than half of organizations hit by ransomware pay to get their data unlocked, further fueling cyber criminal activities.
The percentage of victimized organizations that paid associated ransoms rose considerably this year, from 45% to 57.5%” mentions Imperva in their 2020 Cyberthreat Defense Report.
Imperva 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report
In terms of geographical distribution, ransomware hit Australia, the USA, and Saudi Arabia the hardest in 2020, according to the Imperva 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report.
Because cybersecurity is a discipline with widespread implications and interdependencies, we’re going to dive into the most prominent attack tactics next. Recent reports overflow with data that both concerns companies across industries and addresses particular issues.
Other common cyber attack tactics
Ransomware is not the only concern. Over the next sections, we’ll take a look at other common attack vectors.
Favored cyber attack tactics include cryptojacking and encrypted communication
Cryptojacking attacks made a comeback in 2020 after seeing huge declines in the latter half of 2019. All in all, there was an rise of around 28% year on year, with all but one quarter showing a marked increase. (2021 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report)
Cybercriminals now spread malware that infects victims’ computers and unlawfully uses their processing power to mine cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin or Monero.
The dropping value of cryptocurrencies may have weakened interest in ransomware but mining for virtual currencies is still hugely relevant. That said, the landscape is shifting:
An ongoing shift has been observed, however, from Coinhive to XMRig, another Monero cryptocurrency miner. An opensource code that is readily available, iterations of XMRig malware accounted for nearly 30 million of the 32.3 million total cryptojacking hits SonicWall observed in 2020.
Mid-Year Update: 2020 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report
In the ENISA Threat Landscape Report 2020: Cryptojacking, ENISA notes that there were 64.1 million cryptojacking hits in 2019. 39.3% of these targeted Japan.
But cryptojacking is not the only attack giving CISOs, CIOs, and IT managers more trouble than they can handle. Statistics show that several threat vectors are cause for concern.
- Cybercriminals are quick to find ways to get around strengthened security; “next gen” supply chain attacks grew 420% in just 12 months. (2020 State of the Software Supply Chain)
- Cybercriminal tactics often leverage available information: 63 percent of network intrusions are the result of compromised user passwords and usernames. (Microsoft)
- Malicious documents are also a well-known infection vector that hasn’t lost its popularity: in its 2018 Annual Cybersecurity Report, Cisco found that, globally, 38% percent of malicious email attachments were Microsoft Office formats such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. (Cisco)
- Archive files, the likes of .zip and .jar, represent around 37% of all malicious file extensions Cisco observed, with malicious PDF files accounting for 14% of the total. (Cisco)
Besides the already classic attack vectors, cybercriminals are also looking to piggyback on the boom in ecommerce and online shopping:
While attacks on household names make headlines, Symantec’s telemetry shows that it is often small and medium sized retailers, selling goods ranging from clothing to gardening equipment to medical supplies, that have had formjacking code injected onto their websites. This is a global problem with the potential to affect any business that accepts payments from customers online.
The increasing adoption of cloud-based platforms is still leaving cybersecurity professionals playing catch-up:
- 93% of companies deal with rogue cloud apps usage (Imperva 2019 Cyberthreat Defense Report)
- 82% of cloud users have experienced security events caused by confusion over who is responsible to secure the implementations (Oracle and KPMG Cloud Threat Report 2019)
Imperva 2019 Cyberthreat Defense Report
Here are some key statistics that highlight the diversity in malicious tactics and strategies:
- 35 percent of companies in a global survey were targeted by an SSL or TLS-based attack (Gartner)
- Fileless attacks are increasingly effective at evading detection; as a consequence, the trend is bound to increase. Indeed, fileless attacks were used in 77% of successful compromises in 2018 and increased in prevalence by a huge 265% in Q1 2019. (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Malware)
- Financial trojans may have steadily declined in volume but they’re still one of the biggest threats against consumers; the most prevalent financial trojans of 2019 was Emotet (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Malware)
- In 2019, polymorphic malware accounted for almost 94% of all malicious executables (2020 Webroot Threat Report)
2020 Webroot Threat Report
Physical attacks are also on the rise, as cybercrime statistics show:
- 20% of cybersecurity incidents in 2019 started or finished with a physical action (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Physical Threats)
- Physical attacks on ATMs was the fifth most implemented malicious action on assets (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Physical Threats)
- A physical attack was the main method in 54% of all data breaches (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Physical Threats)
- None of this is helped by the fact that 65% of employees said they behaved in ways or adopted practices that may risk physical security (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Physical Threats)
- In Europe, Black box ATM attacks increased by 269% in the first half of 2020 compared to H1. Related losses increased from €1,000 to over €1 million compared to the previous year. (European Association for Secure Transactions (EAST) European Payment Terminal Crime Report)
The numbers are climbing when it comes to internal threats too: 88% of organizations recognize that insider threats are a cause for concern, although it’s noted that harm caused by insiders may be unintentional (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Insider Threat)
ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Insider Threat
Motivations are also changing, moving from making money through nefarious tactics to collecting data that can be used to cash out on multiple subsequent attacks:
The most likely reason for an organization to experience a targeted attack was intelligence gathering, which is the motive for 96 percent of groups.
DDoS attacks grow in both duration and frequency
With more unsecured devices connecting to the internet than ever, cybercriminals are taking full advantage of their processing power. Once recruited into botnets, they harness their collective power to launch powerful DDoS attacks that companies can barely survive.
Here are some statistics that illustrate this growing issue:
- In Q4 2020, the number of DDoS attacks increased slightly over the same period in the previous year. (Kaspersky Labs)
- This followed a year-on-year trend as in 2019, DDoS attacks increased almost 50% over 2018. (Kaspersky Labs)
- 71% of organizations have experienced an extortion or ransom DDoS threat. (Corero Impact of DDoS on Enterprise Organizations)
Netscout Threat Intelligence saw 3.75 million DDoS attacks in 2H 2020. This is roughly 20,500 attacks a day or 14 attacks per minute.
- The 2H 2020 report found that the number of multi-vector attacks (those using 15+ vectors) increased 116% from 2019 to 2020 (NETSCOUT Threat Intelligence Report Findings from 2H 2020)
- The LATAM region saw the largest increase in multi-vector DDoS attacks, while the number of attacks in the APAC region actually decreased slightly (NETSCOUT Threat Intelligence Report Findings from 2H 2020)
- The duration of attacks decreased to around 39 minutes in 2H 2020, with Netscout noting that this year saw attacks of shorter duration but increased complexity. (NETSCOUT Threat Intelligence Report Findings from 2H 2020)
- The distribution of attacks by country sees China having the lion’s share (58% in Q4 2020) of attacks and the US experiencing 71% of attacks in Q3 2020. (Kaspersky Labs)
Phishing attacks reach their highest level in 3 years
Malicious hackers and scammers are getting craftier at creating and sending phishing emails that trick even the most cautious users. The data shows that this is a constant cause for concern with no sign of slowing down in terms of effectiveness.
Phishing was the top crime type reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in 2020, with more than double the number of complaints seen in 2019. (IC3 Internet Crime Report 2020)
IC3 Internet Crime Report 2020
- In Q4 of 2020, APWG detected over 636,000 unique phishing websites and observed more than 395,000 unique phishing email subjects. (APWG’s Phishing Activity Trends Report for Q4 2020)
- More than 60% of phishing attacks involve keyloggers. (Cofense’s Phishing Threat and Malware Review Q3 2020)
- The most frequent targeted attack vector is spear phishing. (Symanetc’s Internet Security Threat Report 2019)
Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report 2019
- Small organizations receive malicious emails at a higher rate. (Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report 2019)
- Mining companies are most likely to receive malicious emails. (Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report 2019)
- Financial institutions are now the most common targets of phishing attacks, up 3% from last quarter. Webmail and SaaS users are now the second-largest demographic (APWG’s Phishing Activity Trends Report for Q4 2020)
APWG’s Phishing Activity Trends Report for Q4 2020
- Phishing is the number twotype of threat action involved in data breaches, after denial-of-service following a hack. (Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigation Report)
- In 2016, Verizon reported that 30 percent of phishing emails in the U.S. were opened, with 12 percent of those targeted by these emails clicking on infected links or attachments (Verizon)
- 74% of phishing sites used HTTPS in the last quarter of 2019, compared to just 32% two years earlier. (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Phishing)
- Almost 43% of malicious attachments in 2019 were Microsoft Office documents. (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Phishing)
- More than 95% of malware-distributing emails require human action such as following links or accepting security warnings. (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Phishing)
The 10 most frequently-used subject lines in attacks are:
- Follow up
- Are you available?/Are you at your desk?
- Payment Status
- Invoice Due
- Direct Deposit
- However, according to ENISA, the word “payment” is used in 32.5% of all attack email subjects. (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Phishing)
- Monday is the most popular day to send out phishing messages with 30% of emails being delivered on that day. (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Phishing)
Phishing and other types of email fraud rely heavily on impersonation to make their attacks more effective. Displaying fake display names to deceive victims is preferred by bad actors over typosquatting or domain spoofing.
During the first half of 2021, Agari data indicates 62.6% of all identity-deception based attacks leveraged display name deception aimed at impersonating a trusted individual or brand—typically an outside vendor, supplier or partner.
- The most frequently impersonated brands are Microsoft (43% of the time) and DHL (18% of the time). (Checkpoint Research Q4 2020 Brand Phishing Report)
- Others in the top 10 included Google, PayPal, Netflix, Apple, Amazon, IKEA, and Chase. Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, popular choices in previous years, seem to have fallen out of favor with scammers. (Checkpoint Research Q4 2020 Brand Phishing Report)
- When it comes to fooling executives, scammers, spammers, and other bad actors leverage the popularity or brands with DHL, Dropbox, and Amazon being the most impersonated in Q3 2020 (Abnormal Security Quarterly BEC Report for Q3 2020)
Spam continues to be a dominant force in email-based cybercrime
Channels may change, but spam is one of those attack tactics that’s bound to stick with us for the foreseeable future and quite possibly beyond it. Some of the allures of spam for cybercriminals are its ease of execution and potential to reach a huge number of victims. One common scheme doing the rounds in 2020 involved spam emails from large companies requesting that recipients call a support number. Upon calling, they would be asked by the fake support team to hand over details including their full name and banking information.
Scammers like such schemes, because sending spam is much cheaper and easier than calling potential victims.
- In Q1 2021, the average portion of spam in mail traffic was 45.67%, a slight decrease from the previous quarter (47.78%). (Kaspersky Spam and Phishing in Q1 2021)
- The countries most likely to be targeted with malicious emails are Spain (8.74%), Italy (7.59%), and Germany (5.84%) (Kaspersky Spam and Phishing in Q1 2021)
- Russia and Germany are the top spam-source countries, generating 22.47% and 14.89% of spam respectively. (Kaspersky Spam and Phishing in Q1 2021)
Kaspersky Spam and Phishing in Q4 2021
Cybercriminals are not content with just using the billions of email addresses leaked through data breaches. They’re also validating their lists of potential victims and bypassing spam filters in ever clever ways:
Spammers manipulated feedback forms on the websites of large companies used to ask questions, express wishes or subscribe to newsletters. However, in this reporting year, instead of spamming the company’s linked mailboxes, the spammers exploited low levels of website security, bypassed any reCAPTCHA tests and registered multiple accounts with valid e-mail information. As a result, victims received a legitimate reply from the company, including the spammer’s message. In this way, even Google Forms was manipulated to retrieve user data and send commercial spam.
- Spam was the most popular type of threat leveraging COVID-19. (ENISA Threat Landscape Report 2020 – Spam)
- 65.7% of COVID-19 related threats were spam email while 26.8% were malware. (ENISA Threat Landscape Report 2020 – Spam)
ENISA Threat Landscape Report 2020 – Spam
Most cybercrime now leverages mobile channels
More devices, more problems. From BYOD to malicious apps with millions of downloads, cybercriminals have plenty of opportunities to exploit, scam, and extort victims in both corporate and private environments.
- Most cybercrime is now mobile. 70% of online fraud is accomplished through mobile platforms. (RSA 2019 Current State of Cybercrime Report)
- Additionally, there has been a 680% increase in the number of fraud transactions originating from mobile apps. (RSA 2019 Current State of Cybercrime Report)
- On average, 82 rogue apps are identified each day. (RSA 2019 Current State of Cybercrime Report)
- The top category for malicious apps is Games (21%), Tools and Personalization (20%), and Entertainment and Lifestyle (17%). (Upstream Secure-D “A Pandemic on Mobile”)
Upstream Secure-D Mobile “A Pandemic on Mobile”
- Secure-D identified almost 45,000+ malicious apps in 2020, with 23% available via Google Play. (Upstream Secure-D “A Pandemic on Mobile”)
- Secure-D had to block over a billion transactions (a shocking 93% of total transactions) as fraudulent. This represented $1.3 billion worth of transactions. (Upstream Secure-D “A Pandemic on Mobile”)
- IT detected more than 17.8 million infected devices in 2019, compared to 43 million in 2019. (Upstream Secure-D “A Pandemic on Mobile”)
Upstream Secure-D “A Pandemic on Mobile”
- In corporate contexts, decision-makers are aware of the issue: 60% of them said that mobile threats were their organizations biggest risk. (Verizon Mobile Security Index 2021)
- Almost 50% of organizations are “very confident” that they’d be able to quickly spot a compromised mobile device. (Verizon Mobile Security Index 2021)
- In spite of these realizations, 76% of companies said they had been pressured to sacrifice mobile security to “get the job done” in 2021. (Verizon Mobile Security Index 2021)
- Consequences are inevitable: More than 90% of surveyed organizations suffered a compromise involving a mobile device in 2020 labelled the impact “moderate” or worse. (Verizon Mobile Security Index 2021)
- Around 70% of compromised companies described the incident as “major” (Verizon Mobile Security Index 2021)
Verizon Mobile Security Index 2021
- Mobile banking malware saw a surge in the first half of 2019, increasing by 50%. (ENISA Threat Landscape Report 2020 – Malware)
- “The most popular banking malware during 2019 was Asacub
(44.4%), Svpeng (22.4%), Agent (19.1%), Faketoken (12%) and
Hqwar (3.8%).” (ENISA Threat Landscape Report 2020 – Malware)
- Phishing attacks on mobile devices are becoming increasingly common. In North America, the Q1 2020 encounter rate of enterprise mobile phishing was 24.71%, a 331% increase. (Lookout’s The State of Mobile Phishing)
Managing cybersecurity vulnerabilities improves but still troubles companies and countries around the world
Software and hardware vulnerabilities continue to be topics of prime importance for the tech world. Let’s explore some highlights that stand out from the numerous reports cybersecurity companies created on the topic:
- 18,362 vulnerabilities were published on the NVD database in 2020 which was slightly higher than the number in 2019 (17,382). (NVD Database)
- A significant portion (11.9%) of vulnerabilities are considered critical. (CVE Details)
- In 2019, almost 90% of web applications were vulnerable to exploits. (Positive Technologies)
- On the plus side, the severity of vulnerabilities seems to be declining as the portion of websites with high-risk vulnerabilities decreased by 17% in 2019 compared to 2018. (Positive Technologies)
- 2020 marked a change, with “Third-party risk management” displacing “Detection of rogue insiders / insider attacks” as the most challenging security process for organizations (Imperva 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report)
- Patch management is the most commonly-used security-management technology of the year, with 56.7% of companies using it and 29.1% planning to adopt it soon. (Imperva 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report)
- Still, over 75 percent of large companies (500+ employees) rely on the antivirus software that came pre-installed on their computer equipment, which may not be the most effective countermeasure (NDIA 2019 Cybersecurity Report)
Reports show that security vulnerabilities in web apps continue to be a huge problem, with 32% of internet-facing web applications considered high or critical risk.
What’s more, the issue is so pervasive that even countries are working on this aspect. 60% of states are reviewing code and conducting application security testing in 2020. This is a 6% increase over 2019. (Deloitte-NASCIO Cybersecurity Survey 2020)
Thankfully, there are plenty of people working to discover and patch vulnerabilities, many through bug bounty programs:
- Google paid out 6.7 million in bug bounties in 2020 and has paid a total of $24.5 million since 2015. (Google)
- Microsoft paid almost $14 million worth of bug bounties in 12 months. (Microsoft)
- Facebook has a bounty program too and awarded around $2 million in just under 10 months in 2020. It’s largest payout to date was $80,000. (Facebook)
The volume of IoT attacks is increasing
As the number of IoT devices continue to multiply wildly, so do the security issues associated with it. The numbers speak for themselves.
The number of Internet connected devices is expected to increase from 31 billion in 2020 to 35 billion in 2021 and 75 billion in 2025.
- In 2021, a single honeypot logged more than 7 billion attacks. (F-Secure Attack Landscape H1 2021)
- The vast majority of these attacks appeared to come from China, the US, and Ireland (though locations can be spoofed). (F-Secure Attack Landscape H1 2021)
F-Secure Attack Landscape Report H1 2021
- 69% of enterprises have networks that are made up of more IoT devices than computers. (Forrester State of Enterprise IoT Security in North America)
- 84% of security professionals think that computers are less vulnerable than IoT devices. (Forrester State of Enterprise IoT Security in North America)
- Security incidents involving IoT devices have impacted 67% of enterprises. (Forrester State of Enterprise IoT Security in North America)
- Only around 21% of security professionals think their current security controls are adequate. (Forrester State of Enterprise IoT Security in North America)
Forrester State of Enterprise IoT Security in North America
- Security is a primary concern for IoT developers with 39% making it a top priority. (Eclipse 2020 IoT Developer Survey Key Findings)
The overall volume of IoT attacks remained high in 2018 and consistent compared to 2017. Routers and connected cameras were the most infected devices and accounted for 75 and 15 percent of the attacks respectively.
- The most widely used techniques in IoT security are communication security (43%) and data encryption (41%). (Eclipse 2020 IoT Developer Survey Key Findings)
IoT Security Market Report 2017-2022
- As we’ve seen, default passwords are the core attack tactic, so the biggest IoT security issues that need to be solved are authentication/authorization (32%), followed by access control (15%) and data encryption (14%) (IoT Security Market Report 2017-2022)
IoT Security Market Report 2017-2022
- 57% of IoT devices may be vulnerable to attack. (Palo Alto Networks The Connected Enterprise: IoT Security Report 2020)
- Only 4% of developed believe there is no room for improvement in their IoT security practices. 17% believe a total overhaul is needed. (Palo Alto Networks The Connected Enterprise: IoT Security Report 2020)
- Only around one in five IT decision-makers use micro-segmentation to improve IoT device security. (Palo Alto Networks The Connected Enterprise: IoT Security Report 2020)
Palo Alto Networks The Connected Enterprise: IoT Security Report 2020
Social media scams and attacks spread like wildfire
With billions of users and everyday usage skyrocketing, social media platforms became a goldmine for cybercriminals and scammers.
Attitudes regarding social media seem to be changing but behaviors aren’t following suit, which leaves bad actors with plenty of opportunities to steal data and defraud users across the globe.
- Facebook breaches were responsible for a whopping 849 million leaked records in 2019. (Comparitech)
- 96% of Baby Boomers are distrustful of social media when it comes to protecting their data, followed by 94% of Gen Xers, 93% of Gen Z, and 92% of Millennials. (The Blinding Effect of Security Hubris on Data Privacy by Malwarebytes)
An overwhelming majority of all users (94 percent) refrain from sharing personal information on social media and 95 percent of polled users felt an overall sense of distrust for social media networks. If given the option to “choose the lesser evil,” they’d rather forgo using social media than search engines.
The Blinding Effect of Security Hubris on Data Privacy by Malwarebytes
- Facebook-related crime grew 19% in the UK in 2019. (The Commentator)
- A 2019 report found that Instagram was the most commonly used platform for child grooming (NSPCC)
- The social media issue goes even deeper: 59% feel it’s unethical for social media platforms to tailor newsfeeds (RSA Data Privacy & Security Survey 2019)
- 67% of UK consumers believe recommendations based on purchase/browsing history are unethical (RSA Data Privacy & Security Survey 2019)
- Speaking of newsfeeds, did you know that around 30-40% of social media infections come from infected ads? (Bromium Into The Web of Profit – Social media platforms and the cybercrime economy)
- Cybercriminals are also leveraging social media to promote their hacking services: around 30-40% of the social media platforms feature accounts offering some form of hacking activities (Bromium Into The Web of Profit – Social media platforms and the cybercrime economy)
- No wonder 34% of US adults don’t trust social media companies at all with safeguarding their personal data (Statista)
- RSA found 500 social media groups dedicated to fraud, with a total of 220,000 members. 60% of those were on Facebook. (RSA 2020 Hiding in Plain Sight Report)
- WhatsApp is a popular fraud communication channel while Twitter is not preferred. (RSA 2020 Hiding in Plain Sight Report)
- During its study, RSA discovered over 15,000 compromised credit cards publicized on various social media networks. (RSA 2020 Hiding in Plain Sight Report)
- This correlates to the fact that carding or carding services are the most popular fraud topics appearing in keywords in group names or searches. (RSA 2020 Hiding in Plain Sight Report)
RSA 2020 Hiding in Plain Sight Report
- At least 20% of social media infections stem from add-ons or plugins for social media platforms (Bromium Into The Web of Profit – Social media platforms and the cybercrime economy)
- Social media phishing is on the rise with social channels accounting for 8% of attacks. (ENISA Threat Landscape Report – Phishing)
Data breaches and leaks expose everyone
So much personal and confidential data has leaked onto the web that it’s becoming a societal issue. Regulators around the world are trying to find solutions for this but, until they do, the onslaught continues.
- One of the earliest 2020 leaks (involving Microsoft) resulted in the leak of 250 million records. (Comparitech)
- The largest data breach in 2020 involved the leak of more than 10 billion records from CAM4, an adult cam site. (Security Boulevard)
- Other large breaches affected Advanced Info Service (AIS) (8.3 billion records), and Keepnet Labs (5 billion records). (Comparitech)
- Another massive 2020 breach affected around 18,000 SolarWinds customers, but the fallout has not yet been determined. (Reuters)
- 56% of companies in the US have dealt with a data breach. (2021 Thales Data Threat Report)
- 41% of US companies have been hit with a breach within the past year. (2021 Thales Data Threat Report)
- The most commonly hit state is California with 5.6 billion records exposed in 1,493 breaches since 2008. (Comparitech)
- New York is second with 295 million records in 863 breaches and Texas is third with 294 million records in 819 breaches. (Comparitech)
There has been some good news though:
- In 2020, there were a total of 1,108 data breaches affecting US consumers. This is down 19% over 2019’s figure. (Identity Theft Resource Centre)
- There were far fewer individuals impacted by data breaches in 2020 than in 2019 with numbers down by 66% to 300 million. (Identity Theft Resource Centre)
While these numbers are positive, ITRC President & CEO Eva Velasquez warns against complacency:
Now is not the time for consumers to think their risk has evaporated. There are still hundreds of millions of records exposed each year and consumers need to understand this is a continuing risk that can have real impacts on their lives.
Identity Theft Resource Center
So what are the main causes of these breaches?
- In 2020, cyberattacks were found to be the root cause of 878 breaches. In total, these affected almost 170 million individuals. (Identity Theft Resource Center)
- Phishing was the most common type of cyber attack causing breaches. (Identity Theft Resource Centre)
- This is in agreement with the Verizon report that tells us almost 40% involved social engineering attacks, with phishing, pretexting, and bribery as the most common malicious actions. (Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report)
- This is a shift from earlier years when errors were the most common cause of breaches. (Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report)
- That said, errors still play a role. The top errors in 2021 were misconfiguration followed by misdelivery. (Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report)
- The use of stolen credentials was involved in more than 20% of breaches. (Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report)
- Ransomware was another common attack type, involved in 18% percent of breaches that had a cyber attack as their root cause. (Identity Theft Resource Center)
- The top hacking vector in breaches was web applications, involved in around 90% of hacking breaches. (Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report)
- Data breaches caused by human errors and system glitches resulted in an average loss of $3.24 million. (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Data Breach)
- Point-of-sale and card-skimming breaches decreased in 2019, thought to be a result of widespread implementation of chip-and-pin cards and terminals. (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Data Breach)
- Password dumper malware was the most common malware variety involved in breaches, followed by capture app data malware and ransomware. (Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report)
- The top malware vector involved in breaches was email links followed by direct installs and download by malware. (Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report)
Another big question is who and what are the targets of data breaches?
- Over 70% of breaches were financially motivated. This sounds like a lot, but it’s actually down from 86% the previous year. (Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report)
- The most affected industries by breaches targeting payment card data are retail (24%) and finance and insurance (18%). (2020 Trustwave Global Security Report)
- Small businesses are much more likely to be targeted, accounting for over 50% of all breaches. This is an almost 100% increase from last year, when they were the victims just 28% of the time. (Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report)
- Public organizations suffer the highest rate of data breaches, with healthcare and finance in second and third. (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Data Breach)
- 2019 saw 400 reports of data breaches from healthcare organizations, a grim record for the industry. (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Data Breach)
- It’s expected that healthcare breaches will increase by 10–15% over the next year. (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Data Breach)
- 70% of cloud infrastructures were breached in a 12-month period. (State of Cloud Security 2020 report by Sophos)
- The most frequently compromised sets of data in breaches are credentials, personal data, medical information, bank details, and internal information. (Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report)
- 70% of data breaches expose emails. (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Data Breach)
How much do criminals get for the data?
- As a result of the growing number of data breaches, personal data is easier to buy on the dark web than ever. For example, credit card details sell for $12–20. (We Live Security)
- American Express details are pricier, selling for $35, including the PIN. (We Live Security)
- For some reason, transfers of $1,000–3,000 cost $320 on average while higher transfers (over $3,000) sell for around $156. (We Live Security)
- Gmail accounts appear to be lucrative for criminals, selling for an average of $156 each. (We Live Security)
And who is carrying out breaches?
- The top actors are part of organized crime, responsible for around 80% of breaches. (Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report)
- Nation-state or state-affiliated actors, system admins, and end users are other key players, but are each only responsible for around 5% of breaches. (Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report)
- 67% of costs related to data breaches are incurred in the first year following a breach, but 22% are realized in the second year and 11% in the third. (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Data Breach)
- Smaller organizations suffer higher data breach costs per employee than larger ones, at $3,533 and $204 respectively. (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Data Breach)
How about the costs involved in data breaches?
- The average US data breach costs $8.64 million. (IBM 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report)
- Companies lose an average of $1.52 million from lost business alone. (IBM 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report)
- Large breaches involving 1–10 million records cost an average of $50 million. (IBM 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report)
- Each record stolen in a breach costs an organization about $150. (IBM 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report)
Perhaps more importantly, how effective are organizations at preparing for and dealing with breaches?
- It takes 280 days on average to contain a data breach. This is slightly longer than in 2019 (279 days). (IBM 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report)
- It takes months or longer to discover 40% of breaches (Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report)
- Almost three-quarters (72%) of organizations detected their most significant breach within a month, but 28% took longer. (EY Global Information Security Survey 2020)
- 39% of organizations report that they don’t think they would detect a file-less malware attack. (EY Global Information Security Survey 2020)
- Only 7% of security leaders can quantify the financial impact of breaches. (EY Global Information Security Survey 2020)
- 50% of organizations only spend 6–15% of their security funds on securing data. (2020 Thales Data Threat Report)
- Having an incident response team at the ready can reduce the average cost of a breach by $2 million. (IBM 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report)
- Cybersecurity teams join the planning stage of 36% of business initiatives. (EY Global Information Security Survey 2020)
EY Global Information Security Survey 2020
Additionally, our own research at Comparitech highlights that Wall Street swiftly reacts to data breaches. We analyzed how cybersecurity breaches impact stock market prices and found out that:
- On average, stocks immediately experience a drop of 0.43% in share price following a breach.
- Long-term effects include a much slower upturn in terms of share prices. We observed a 45.6% increase in share prices during the three years prior to breach, and only a 14.8% growth in the three years following the compromise.
- Breached companies recover to NASDAQ’s pre-breach performance level after 38 days on average, but three years after the breach they still underperform the index by a margin of over 40%.
- When they suffer a data breach, financial organizations experience an immediate decline in share price whereas internet businesses (e-commerce, social media, etc.) most frequently endure long-term effects.
- Larger breaches have less of a negative influence on share prices than smaller breaches.
- Breaches involving credit card details and social security numbers register a more significant negative impact on share prices than leaks containing less sensitive info, such as email addresses.
The entire analysis reveals other interesting consequences for breached companies, both in terms of financial aspects and nonfinancial ones, such as reputation and brand trust.
Users are more worried about cybercrime statistics but fail to follow through with protecting their assets
Cybersecurity statistics clearly show that technology has its limitations when it comes to safeguarding assets such as confidential data and money. To truly make strides in better protection from cybercriminals and online crooks, user behavior must be improved as well.
- 55% of people are worried about criminals accessing their data. (ENISA Threat Landscape 2020 – Data Breach)
- 91% of people know the risks of reusing passwords across their online accounts, which inherently leads to a higher risk of password theft and credential misuse. Despite this, 66% do it anyway. (LastPass Pyschology of Passwords 2020)
- 66% of surveyed users said they simply skim through or do not read end-user license agreements or other consent forms. (The Blinding Effect of Security Hubris on Data Privacy by Malwarebytes 2019)
- Only 47% know which permissions their apps have. (The Blinding Effect of Security Hubris on Data Privacy by Malwarebytes 2019)
The Blinding Effect of Security Hubris on Data Privacy by Malwarebytes 2019
- 78% of people in the UK are most concerned about identity theft resulting in financial loss. (RSA Data Privacy & Security Survey 2019)
- 96% of people polled for a study mention they care about their privacy, and 93% of them use security software. (The Blinding Effect of Security Hubris on Data Privacy by Malwarebytes 2019)
- 75% of consumers now limit the amount of personal information they share online (RSA Data Privacy & Security Survey 2019)
- And they do so for good reason: internationally, 36% of people surveyed by RSA said their personal information was compromised in a data breach over the last 5 years, and 45% of US respondents confirmed the same. (RSA Data Privacy & Security Survey 2019)
- What’s more, 58% of U.S. respondents said they’d consider divesting from companies that disregard protecting their data. (RSA Data Privacy & Security Survey 2019)
- But there’s good news as well: a little over 53% of people now use password managers. (The Blinding Effect of Security Hubris on Data Privacy by Malwarebytes 2019)
The issues are even bigger in an organizational environment, whether private or public:
- 1 out of 3 employees risk running malware on a work computer. (Penetration testing of corporate information systems: statistics and findings 2019 – Positive Technologies)
- When penetration testers were on the field, they discovered that 1 out of 7 employees engaged in dialog with an imposter and disclosed confidential information. (Penetration testing of corporate information systems: statistics and findings 2019 – Positive Technologies)
- 1 out of 10 employees entered account credentials in a fake authentication form. (Penetration testing of corporate information systems: statistics and findings 2019 – Positive Technologies)
- Each employee has access to an average of 11 million files. (2021 Varonis Financial Services Data Risk report)
- Around two-thirds of companies have more than 1,000 sensitive files that are left open for anyone to view. (2021 Varonis Financial Services Data Risk report)
- 6 out of 10 companies have over 500 passwords that never expire (2021 Varonis Financial Services Data Risk report)
GDPR came into force on May 25, 2018, and everyone rushed to comply, fearing huge fines and other legal repercussions. Did it work as expected? Let’s check what the numbers have to say.
- €272 million ($332 million) in fines have been issued since the GDPR was introduced. (DLA Piper)
- The National Data Protection Commission in France fined Google €50 million on January 21, 2019, the largest GDPR-related fine to date. (CNIL France)
- The second largest fine (€35.26 million) so far was issued in Germany against global fashion retailer H&M, and the third largest (€27.8 million) was against a telecommunications operator in Italy. (DLA Piper)
- In terms of total value of fines, Italy is top having issued €69.3 million in fines. (DLA Piper)
- Under the EU GDPR, companies can be fined up to €20 million or 4% of their annual turnover, whichever is higher. (IT Governance)
- In the first year of the GDPR, over 144,000 complaints were filed. (Access Now)
- France’s CNIL received 30% more complaints in the first year of the GDPR than in the previous year. (Access Now)
- More than 89,000 breach notifications were submitted in that first year. (Access Now)
- Germany has had the highest number of data breaches reported since the GDPR was introduced with over 77,000. The Netherlands is second with more than 66,000, and the UK third with over 30,000. (DLA Piper)
- We are starting to see a trend of initially large fines being reduced after legal action such as a 90% reduction on a British Airways fine and an 80% reduction on a fine against Marriott. (Bank Info Security)
Legal experts say that with British Airways and Marriott having seen final fines that were a fraction of what regulators first proposed, any organization that gets hit with a GDPR fine will likely seek similar concessions.
Bank Info Security
- Awareness of the GDPR is fairly high with over two-thirds (69%) or people in the EU-27 having heard about it. (FRA)
- Men are slightly more aware (71%) than women (67%) of the GDPR. (FRA)
- Poland has the highest rate of GDPR awareness at 95% (FRA)
- 71% of people are aware of their respective data protection authority with those in the Czech Republic being the most aware (90%). (FRA)
- 60% of people in the EU-27 know that they may access personal data held by public administrations but only 51% are aware the same applies to private companies. (FRA)
Cost of cybercrime stats
There’s a lot of data to dig into when it comes to the financial toll of cybercrime. Seeing the shocking figures below could help encourage proactive behavior when it comes to cyber defenses.
The big-picture view is that up to 1% of the world’s GDP is now being lost to cybercrime, according to McAfee The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime 2020. What’s more, the cost of cybercrime to the global economy has increased more than 50% in two years.
Since 2018, we estimated that the cost of global cybercrime reached over $1 trillion. We estimated the monetary loss from cybercrime at approximately $945 billion. Added to this was global spending on cybersecurity, which was expected to exceed $145 billion in 2020. Today, this is a $1 trillion dollar drag on the global economy.
And a study by Atlas VPN found that cybercrime is earning criminals $1.5 trillion annually. This is almost three times the size of Walmart’s revenue. (Atlas VPN)
It’s perfectly natural to feel a bit overwhelmed by these figures. Even when looking at yearly developments, the data is a compelling argument for improving cybersecurity strategies.
If it were measured as a country, then cybercrime — which is predicted to inflict damages totaling $6 trillion USD globally in 2021 — would be the world’s third-largest economy after the U.S. and China.
The varied ways in which cyber criminals amass these large sums of money range from massive operations to spray-and-pray attacks, the latter targeting a large number of victims in the hope that it will compromise some of them.
Wondering how they manage to move these huge sums without being caught? Here’s what the studies reveal about money laundering alone:
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that 2–5% of global GDP is laundered each year. This equates to $800 billion–$2 trillion.
Money laundering cycles involve three stages: placement, layering, and integration.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
However, malicious hackers and scammers are also spending money, “investing” in assets that can make their attacks more effective. Here are some of the prices observed by Armor:
- Generic ransomware: $1.99–6.50
- Unhacked Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) servers: $9.99–25 per server
- Hacker university degree: $125
- Various malware: $2.68–80
- ATM skimmers: $700–1,500
- Card readers or writers: $149–990
- Phones: $179 for an iPhone 11 Max Pro
- Underground market vendor shop setup: €5,000–10,000
- Destruction of a target’s business: $185
- Rent access to popular software: $500 per month
- SMS spamming service: $18.99–19.99 for 1,000 SMS
- Bulletproof hosting (web hosting for content such as fraud, money laundering, and porn): $4–19 per month
- Telephone Denial of Service (TDoS) attacks: $132.30 for 7,000 calls in 72-hour period
- Money transfer services: $1,000 for a $15,000 balance
However, other reports show criminals pay far more for their tools. For example, zero-day exploits tend to fetch big money, with one critical Zoom zero-day exploit being sold for $500,000 in March 2020. Another report tells us criminals may pay $60,000 for an Adobe reader zero-day exploit and up to $2,500,000 for an iOS zero-day exploit.
- Marketplaces are larger than one might imagine: some dark web markets claim to have up to 1 million visitors each month. (Armor Dark Market Report 2020)
- Hydra is the largest marketplace within the darknet. Between 2016 and 2019, its 5,000 shops saw $1 billion in sales. (Signal)
Many tools used by attackers are getting cheaper and personal data used in attacks is inexpensive too. Even PayPal account credentials sell for as little as $50. (Armor)
Other prices revealed by Armor include:
- Visa/Mastercard/Amex/Discover credit card with CVV numbers: $5–35
- Cloned ATM cards: $300–$1,000
- Fullz data (includes name, date of birth, address, mother’s maiden name, SSN, driver’s license number: $15–60
- Business fullz data (bank account numbers, EIN, certificate of business, corporate officer’s names, birth dates, SSN): $35–60
Armor Dark Market Report 2020
One report breaks down cost predictions by industry. Between 2019 and 2023, it predicts the following value at risk as a result of direct and indirect attacks:
- High tech: $753 billion
- Life sciences: $642 billion
- Automotive: $505 billion
- Consumer goods and services: $385 billion
- Banking: $347 billion
- Health: $347 billion
- Retail: $340 billion
- Insurance: $305 billion
Securing the Digital Economy: Reinventing the Internet for Trust
Statistics about current and future cybersecurity costs abound and cover multiple angles:
- $590,000: The cost of downtime to a given department. (McAfee The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime 2020)
- $965,000: The average cost of downtime for engineering departments. (McAfee The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime 2020)
- 68%: The percentage of organizations that have experienced downtime due to security incidents. (McAfee The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime 2020)
- $71 million: The cost of a single 2019 ransomware attack against Norsk Hydro. (McAfee The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime 2020)
- $3 billion: The estimated damage costs to Maersk as a result of the NotPetya ransomware attack. (McAfee The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime 2020)
- $300 million: Losses by FedEx as a result of the NotPetya ransomware attack. (McAfee The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime 2020)
- 26% of companies reported brand damage as a result of a cyberattack. (McAfee The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime 2020)
- £73 million: The amount the NHS spent on IT support in the wake of the WannaCry attack. (McAfee The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime 2020)
- $188,525: The average payout of successful cyber insurance claims (only 28.4% are successful). This is far lower than the average cost of a cyberattack ($590,000). (McAfee The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime 2020)
- $5.5 billion: The value of the cyber insurance market in 2020. (McAfee The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime 2020)
- $2.1 billion: The amount lost in Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams between 2014 and 2019. (McAfee The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime 2020)
- $3.2 billion: The level that global smart grid cybersecurity spending will reach by 2026 (Smart Energy)
- $530 million: The cost of the January 2018 Coincheck hack, the biggest cryptocurrency heist to date. (Comparitech)
- $2.2 million per month: This is how much money cyber criminals can make with just 10 stolen credit cards bought from the underground markets. This is why formjacking is making a fast comeback as a preferred attack tactic (2019 Internet Security Threat Report by Symantec)
- $44,000: The average cost for a BEC hack (Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report)
Kaspersky analyzed the cost of data breaches, breaking down costs for SMBs and enterprises. Here are some highlights:
- The average financial impact of a breach for SMBs has declined since 2019, from $101,000 to $98,000.
- Costs have previously been fairly evenly distributed across the following five top items:
- Additional internal staff wages ($14,000)
- Lost business ($13,000)
- Employing external professionals ($12,000)
- Improving software and infrastructure ($12,000)
- Training ($11,000)
- Other costs included extra PR, new staff, damage to credit rating and insurance premiums, penalties and fines, and compensation. (Kaspersky: Measuring the Financial Impact of IT Security on Businesses)
- For enterprises, the average financial impact was $1.09 million, with lost business ($141,000), additional internal staff wages ($134,000), and employing external professionals ($132,000) incurring the largest portion of costs in 2020. (Kaspersky)
- Kaspersky also broke down the regional costs, with North America ($141,000) being the costliest place for SMBs to experience a data breach, followed by APAC with China ($116,000) and META ($113,000). (Kaspersky)
- For enterprises, Japan ($2 million) was the most expensive place to suffer a data breach in 2020, followed by North America ($1.2 million) and META ($1.1 million). (Kaspersky)
DDoS attacks have a range of costs associated with them too:
- 91% of companies say a DDoS attack cost their business up to $50,000. (Corero Impact of DDoS on Enterprise Organizations)
- The most damaging effect of a DDoS attack is lost customer confidence and trust. Lost revenue is the fourth most damaging. (Corero Impact of DDoS on Enterprise Organizations)
The US Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) breaks down complaints and costs according to age group, state, and type of crime. It received over 2 million complaints in the past five years, totalling losses of more than $13 billion. (IC3 Internet Crime Report 2020)
IC3 Internet Crime Report 2020
- $966 million: The losses incurred by over 60s according to 105,301 complaints to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Those aged 50–59 have lost almost $850 million in 85,967 complaints. (IC3 Internet Crime Report 2020)
- In 2020, it received almost 800,000 complaints with losses totalling $4.2 billion. (IC3 Internet Crime Report 2020)
- The state with the largest victim losses was California ($621 million), followed by New York ($416 million), Texas ($314 million), and Florida ($295 million). (IC3 Internet Crime Report 2020)
- BEC and Email Account Compromise (EAC) caused the largest losses in 2020 ($1.87 billion) followed by confidence or romance fraud ($600 million) and investment schemes ($336 million). (IC3 Internet Crime Report 2020)
AtlasVPN has been conducting much research into cybercrime and its costs:
- Illegal online markets are the biggest money-makers for cybercriminals, accounting for $860 billion in earnings. Trade secrets and IP theft earn $500 billion and data trading nets $160 billion. (AtlasVPN)
- Ransomware earns criminals at least $1 billion each year while Cybercrime-as-a-Service (CaaS) brings in $1.6 billion. (Atlas VPN)
- Blockchain hackers stole $3.8 billion in 122 attacks in 2020. (AtlasVPN)
- Australians lost $176 million in 216,000 scams in 2020. This was more than double the 2019 amount of $79 million. (AtlasVPN)
- Australians lost by far the most money ($66 million) to investment scams followed by dating and romance scams ($37 million) and false billing ($18 million). (AtlasVPN)
Cybersecurity spending trends
Almost everyone falls victim to cyber-attacks nowadays. However, only 44% of companies have both a prevention and response plan for IT security incidents. (Atlas VPN)
Even though a limited number of companies are being proactive, global spending on cybersecurity was $145 billion in 2019. (McAfee The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime 2020)
Here are some more interesting spending statistics to digest:
- 47% of organizations planned to spend more on cybersecurity in 2021. (ESG Master Survey Results: 2021 Technology Spending Intentions Survey)
- There were 1,483 cybersecurity companies in the UK in 2020, representing a 21% growth over 2019. (Atlas VPN)
- Over 30% of executives said the actions required to remediate security incidents were “difficult and expensive.” (Verizon Mobile Security Index 2021)
- Cybersecurity spending is defensive instead of innovative with 77% spent on risk and compliance instead of opportunity. 48% say risk reduction is the primary driver and 29% cite compliance as the key determinant. (EY Global Information Security Survey 2020)
- Spending on new initiatives comprises only 5% or less of the average cybersecurity budget. (EY Global Information Security Survey 2020)
- Only about one-third (36%) of organizations say that they consider cybersecurity when planning new initiatives. (EY Global Information Security Survey 2020)
- 53% of businesses spend more than half their cybersecurity budget on operations. (EY Global Information Security Survey 2020)
- 43% spend less than a quarter of their cybersecurity budgets on long-term investment and capital projects. (EY Global Information Security Survey 2020)
The way we’ve organized cybersecurity is as a backward-looking function, when it is capable of being a forward-looking, valueadded function.
Kris Lovejoy, EY Global Advisory Cybersecurity Leader (EY Global Information Security Survey 2020)
The effectiveness of cybersecurity spending is in question:
- Only 20% of organizations believe their cybersecurity measures protect the business from major attacks. (EY Global Information Security Survey 2020)
- 60% of organizations “cannot quantify the effectiveness of their cybersecurity spending to their boards.” (EY Global Information Security Survey 2020)
- 28% of cybersecurity budgets are spent on Security Operations Center (SOCs) but only 26% of SOCs identified their respective company’s most significant breach. (EY Global Information Security Survey 2020)
This might be because many organizations continue to operate with first-generation SOCs that require significant amounts of manual intervention — particularly given the reluctance (or inability) to invest in future-proofing. Only 19% of budget is currently going towards architecture and engineering.
EY Global Information Security Survey 2020
A Deloitte survey has some slightly different figures for us:
- Companies spent more on cybersecurity in 2020 than in 2019 (0.48% of overall revenue versus 0.34% in 2019). (Deloitte and FS-ISAC survey 2020)
- Organizations are spending 10.9% of their IT budget on cybersecurity compared to 10.1% in 2019. (Deloitte and FS-ISAC survey 2020)
- This equates to an average of $2,691 per employee in 2020 and $2,337 per employee in 2019. (Deloitte and FS-ISAC survey 2020)
Deloitte breaks down cybersecurity spending as a percentage of IT spending across industry sectors in 2020:
- Retail/corporate banking: 9.4%
- Consumer/financial services (non-banking): 10.5%
- Insurance: 11.9%
- Service provider: 7.2%
- Financial utility: 8.2%
Deloitte and FS-ISAC survey 2020
We can also see which cybersecurity domains these budgets are being spent on:
- Cyber monitoring and operations: 19%
- Endpoint and network security: 18%
- Identity and access management: 16%
- Cybersecurity governance: 13%
- Application and data protection: 12%
- Third party/vendor security management: 10%
- Cyber resilience: 8%
- Other: 6%
These figures haven’t shifted much since 2018.
Deloitte and FS-ISAC survey 2020
Overall security strategy (95%) and review of current threats and security risks (88%) are the cybersecurity areas garnering the most interest from boards and management teams. (Deloitte and FS-ISAC survey 2020)
What about future spending? Canalys’ Global cybersecurity 2021 forecast gives us some insight. Global cybersecurity spending could feasibly increase 10% in the next year. 6.6% is a worst-case scenario outlook. (Canalys’ Global cybersecurity 2021 forecast)
Canalys’ Global cybersecurity 2021 forecast
The report breaks down forecasts by solution type, with the following worst and best-case growth rates:
- Web and email security: 8.8–12.5% growth
- Vulnerability and security analytics: 7.5–11.0% growth
- Endpoint security: 6.2–10.4%
- Identity access management: 8.1–10.4%
- Network security: 4.2–8.0%
- Data security: 4.2–6.6%
PwC’s Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2020 has some more interesting statistics and forecasts too:
- 4 out of 10 respondents anticipate increasing fraud prevention spending in the next two years. (PwC’s Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2020)
- Companies that operated a fraud prevention program ended up spending 17% less on remediation and 42% less on responses compared to companies that didn’t have those programs in place. (PwC’s Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2020)
- Companies that had a bribery and corruption program had 58% lower costs when dealing with a related incident than companies without a program. (PwC’s Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2020)
PwC’s Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2020
Human resource limitations: over 50% of organizations are “re-training existing IT staff to tackle cloud security challenges” (Imperva 2019 Cyberthreat Defense Report)
Cybersecurity statistics point out that companies are working on improvements in several areas:
- 85% of companies are interested in replacing passwords with new forms of authentication. (Oracle and KPMG Cloud Threat Report 2019)
- “53% are using machine learning for cybersecurity purposes.” (Oracle and KPMG Cloud Threat Report 2020)
Imperva 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report
In order to achieve these improvements and more, organizations worldwide are increasing their spending. However, information security spending numbers show there are many differences across sectors and company sizes.
Kaspersky’s Investment adjustment: aligning IT budgets with changing security priorities gives us some insight in SMB cybersecurity spending:
- 71% of SMBs and enterprises intend to increase IT investment over the next two years. (Kaspersky)
- IT security accounted for 26% of overall IT budgets for SMBs in 2020 compared to 23% in 2019. (Kaspersky)
- For enterprises, Kaspersky found that the figure was 29%. (Kaspersky)
- SMBs increasing their budget cite more complex IT infrastructure (43%), the need to improve security expertise (39%), and a desire to improve defenses (34%). Enterprises increasing budgets have similar reasons. (Kaspersky)
- 11% of enterprises and 9% of SMBs intend to decrease IT security budgets in the next three years.
- 32% of senior management don’t see why companies should be investing so much in the future, which threatens to drive down IT security spending. (Kaspersky)
- 29% of SMBs are lowering overall expenses to optimize budgets, another reason IT security spending could be reduced. (Kaspersky)
Cybersecurity jobs growth
Industry estimates show there may be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021 (Cybersecurity Ventures).
68 percent of respondents whose organizations experienced more cyberattacks in the past year report being somewhat or significantly understaffed.
- 39% of companies mention that less than 2% of their total IT staff work in cybersecurity (EY Global Information Security Survey 2018-2019)
- 87% of organizations are challenged by IT security skills shortage, up from 85% in 2020 (Imperva 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report)
- Women make up less than a quarter of the infosec workforce worldwide (Opportunity in Cybersecurity Report 2020)
- 956,000 people worked in cybersecurity in the US in 2021 (Cyberseek)
- There were 464,000 job openings for information security specialists across the United States during this time. Both numbers are noticeably higher than in previous years. (Cyberseek)
- The three most requested job titles by companies in the US were in 2021 were: Cyber Security Analyst, Cyber Security Consultant, and Cyber Security Manager / Administrator(Cyberseek)
- 55% of surveyed companies are considering training their employees to improve their cybersecurity program (Comptia 2020 Trends in Cybersecurity)
- The average yearly salary for a security engineer in the US is $88,000 and the same role in the UK pays £52,500 ($72,000) a year (Finding your first job in cyber security)
- An Information Security Analyst made an average yearly salary of $103,590 in 2020 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- 9 in 10 organizations are contracting managed security service providers (MSSPs) to offload at least one IT security function (Imperva 2019 Cyberthreat Defense Report)
- 37% of organizations use third-party firms occasionally for information security projects (Comptia 2020 Trends in Cybersecurity)
- 59% of organizations declare that it’s too expensive to outsource cybersecurity to specialized companies (Comptia 2018 Trends in Cybersecurity)
- 51% of organizations believe they need new or improved security policies to enhance the effectiveness of their security teams (Comptia 2018 Trends in Cybersecurity)
Cybersecurity threats, preparedness and programs by country
It’s clear from the varied outcomes of the studies and surveys above that not all countries are equal when it comes to cybersecurity and internet freedom. Many are poorly equipped to handle cyber attacks, while others are better equipped but more frequently targeted.
This data visualization delves into a number of metrics that demonstrate the variety of threats we face online, looking at which countries deal with the highest number of threats and how they fare in terms of defenses.
The Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) 2020 found that the US had the world’s highest commitment to cybersecurity preparedness, followed by the UK and Saudi Arabia. These nations mobilize resources to build and implement consistent information security strategies country-wide.
It also found that European countries were significantly more likely to perform cybersecurity audits than anywhere else in the world. This may be due to the scale and influence of the European Union, which requires member countries to abide by EU laws.
Countries such as Mexico, New Zealand, and Iceland fall mid-tier, as their cybersecurity programs are in the process of maturing.
At the same time,Chad, Libya, Yemen, the Vatican, and a long list of other countries are just initiating or establishing their information security programs.
The Imperva 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report mentions that Colombia was hardest hit of all countries in 2020, with 93.9% of respondents reporting successful attacks (Imperva 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report).
Malware is most commonly targeted at African and Asian countries, with residents up to five times as likely to face a malware attack than someone in the US. (Avira 2020 Threat Summary).
The same report notes a 36% decrease in the number of incidents in Europe but a simultaneous 28% increase in the volume of records breached, “with UK organizations being the most affected in Europe” (ENISA Threat Landscape Report 2018).
When it comes to breach costs, Canada suffered the biggest direct costs while the United States had the highest indirect costs. A single compromised record in Canada cost US $81 and the same in the US cost $152 (ENISA Threat Landscape Report 2018).
In terms of attack geography, “the US (45,87%), Netherlands (25,74%), Germany (5,33%) and France (4,92%) were the top four source countries for web-based attacks, representing an increase not only for each country compared to Q1 2018 but also to 2017” (ENISA Threat Landscape Report 2018).
For most countries, budget and staffing are the top challenges to developing and implementing an effective information security strategy:
The State of IT Security in Germany 2020
The homonymous report issued by Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security notes a few interesting aspects particular to the country’s cybersecurity program.
When it comes to attack tactics targeting state organizations, email is prevalent:
By an automated antivirus protection, an average of 35,000 harmful emails… were intercepted in real time every month before they managed to reach the recipients’ mailboxes.
In the first half of 2020, German authorities detected over 4 million new malware variants.
Just 27% of surveyed Germans used password managers, with 78% of respondents worried that an attacker could access all of their passwords in one go.
While the majority of all emails received by federal networks were spam, phishing, or malware-related (76%), overall, spam was less common than in 2019. In fact, it was, on average, around half as prevalent.
In another sign that padlock-icon in your URL bar can no longer be relied upon as an indicator of a “safe” website, the majority (77%) of links contained in phishing emails received were to websites using HTTPS.
The State of cybersecurity in Australia 2019
On the other side of the world, the Telstra Security Report 2019 provides an outlook that compares the country’s cybersecurity performance with global data.
There’s some good news coming from Australia: 100% of surveyed decisions-makers confirmed they have some level of influence over choices made for the company’s cybersecurity program, up from 97% in 2018.
This may also contribute to the fact that Australian respondents mentioned that budgets for cyber and IT security are increasing in 2019. The average budget is now roughly $900,000 AUD per year.
Australian business prioritizes security solutions such as operational technology (65%), CCTV and external video sources (61%), biometric and physical access systems (58%), and BAS, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and alarming systems (56%).
Their caution is justified because 65% of Australian businesses had their business interrupted by a security breach in the past year.
In Asia, for example, the two most common attack tactics are virus/malware outbreak and employee error. Interestingly enough, Europe features a combination of both: phishing attacks and employee errors.
A notorious example from Europe features shipping container company Maersk, which fell victim to a ransomware attack in June 2017. The infection spread through its global network and impacted shipping across 76 ports.
The fallout from the attack cost them ca. $300 million and forced them to rebuild their entire IT infrastructure.
In the APAC region, companies are interested in user and entity behavior analytics (57%) and in threat intelligence platforms (56%). In Europe, DevOps for security (55%) and security for IoT (also 55%) are top priorities (Telstra Security Report 2018).
Top cybersecurity threats 2021
Reports of cybercrimes continue to create headlines around the world and this is unlikely to change throughout the year.
Here are some of the predictions being put forward regarding what we can expect to see during the rest of 2021.
The Global Risks Report 2020 from the World Economic Forum provides a detailed outlook of how things look for individual users:
- 75% of consumers expect cyberattacks involving the theft of money or data to increase.
- 76% of individual users cite worrying about losing their privacy to companies as a main concern.
- 76% of consumers dread the loss of privacy to governments over the course of this year.
And here are some other interesting predictions for the future:
- Ransomware is expected to cost $6 trillion per year by 2021. (Cybersecurity Ventures)
- IT teams will prioritize until-now overlooked threats like firmware misconfigurations, given much of the workforce is still remote. (Palo Alto Networks)
- As 5G becomes more widely used, attackers will begin to take advantage of flaws in the technology. (Kaspersky)
- Targeted ransomware will continue to increase in popularity. (Kaspersky)
“As usage of 5G increases, and more devices become dependent on the connectivity it provides, attackers will have a greater incentive to look for vulnerabilities that they can exploit.”
When it comes to a perspective on cybercrime trends beyond this year, the Europol Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) 2020 provides a well-documented outlook:
“It has also become easier for technically inexperienced criminals to carry out phishing campaigns using existing criminal infrastructure and support services – a trend that is expected to continue in the future”
Gartner predicts that organizations which isolate or segment their IoT devices will experience 25% fewer successful cyberattacks by 2023.
In terms of threats, the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2021 Global Risks Report highlights cybersecurity threats as “a clear and present danger”. It also predicts that “adverse tech advances” will constitute the 4th largest global threat over a 10-year horizon, with IT issues accounting for three of the ten largest medium-term risks.
7 easy ways to improve your privacy and security online
If you don’t want to be another statistic in next year’s report, we recommend you take a few simple steps toward protecting your privacy and security online.
Turn on your antivirus. There’s a good chance your computer already has antivirus software built in. If it doesn’t, or if you don’t think it’s sufficient, there are plenty of free and paid antivirus programs to avail of.
Modern antivirus programs typically have two methods of finding and removing malware from your system. The first is a simple system scan, in which the antivirus will sift through every file on your computer to look for, quarantine, and remove malware. The second is real-time scanning, in which running processes and downloaded files are scanned as they appear on your computer and flagged accordingly.
Short for virtual private network, a VPN encrypts all of your internet traffic and routes it through a remote server in a location of your choosing.
Commercial VPNs are typically paid subscription services that you can use by installing an app on your device. They have two primary effects.
The first is that all of your data is secured in an encrypted tunnel until it reaches the VPN server. This prevents your ISP and hackers on wifi networks from snooping on any of your internet activity and your traffic’s final destination.
The second is that your IP address, a unique number that can be used to identify your device and location, is masked behind the VPN’s server address. This helps to anonymize your internet activity.
Most commercial VPNs group dozens or even hundreds of users together under a single IP address, making it impossible to trace activity back to a single user.
Secure browser extensions
Your web browser is the window through which you see the internet, and it can do a lot of things, but is also vulnerable to a large number of attacks and exploits.
Fortunately, a few browser extensions can help protect your privacy and improve security online. Here is a shortlist of browser extensions we recommend:
- HTTPS Everywhere – opts for the SSL-encrypted versions of web pages whenever they are available
- Disconnect or Privacy Badger – prevents websites from using tracking cookies and similar technologies to monitor your online behavior
- Ad Block Plus – advertisements are a common attack vector by which to deliver malware and phishing ads to users. A good ad blocker can keep them at bay.
A firewall is an essential defense against unsolicited internet traffic coming or going from your computer.
Firewalls are installed on almost all modern operating systems and NAT firewalls on most routers. Keep them turned on and be selective about programs you allow to “phone home” through the firewall.
Use strong, unique passwords. Task your password generator with creating random, unique passwords for each of your accounts. Relying on a password manager means you don’t have to memorize them or write them down.
If you don’t want to go that route, at least use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols and try to make it as random as possible.
Never use the same password across all of your accounts. Never use your personal details that a hacker could figure out.
Good passwords will go a long way in protecting your accounts.
Besides a good spam filter, there’s not much protection against phishing attempts. You just have to know how to spot them.
Don’t open links or attachments in unsolicited emails or text messages. Always look for valid HTTPS certificates on websites where you need to input a password or financial information.
If you’re unsure about an email, contact the sender by some other means or ask a question that only they would know to verify their identity.
Never, ever give out passwords or other private information in an email, SMS or instant message.
Read more: Common phishing scams and how to avoid them.
Don’t ignore security updates. Even though they can be annoying, not updating your software not only endangers your device, but everyone on your network.
Once a security update has been issued, hackers will deliberately target that software and users who ignore the security updates. So always update as soon as it’s practical.
How to report cybercrime
If you’ve been a victim of cybercrime then you can find more information about reporting it using the links below:
Canada: Public Safety Canada