Cyberattacks have seen a significant rise in 2022, said new research, mostly due to the increase in organizations going virtual to combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the emergence of smaller, more resilient hacker and ransomware groups.
A report by Check Point Research (CPR) claims that the number of cyberattacks year on year increased by more than a third (38%).
The hackers, who are also growing in number, mostly target educational institutions that are converting to e-learning models, healthcare organizations (who have had their hands full with the Covid-19 pandemic), and endpoints. (Opens in a new tab) belong to government corporations. In addition, software providers that design solutions for remote environments, such as online collaboration and communications tools, have also been heavily targeted.
Africa bears the brunt
The fourth quarter of the year was the busiest for hackers, with the weekly attack average of 1,168 hitting an all-time high, per the organization.
Africa was worst affected (1875 weekly attacks per company), followed by Asia and the Pacific (1691). At the same time, the highest growth rate is observed in North America (52% year on year), Latin America (29%) and Europe (26%).
The United States saw a 57% increase in total cyberattacks this year, the United Kingdom 77%, and Singapore 26%.
“Many educational institutions were unprepared for the unexpected shift to online learning, which created ample opportunity for hackers to infiltrate networks through any means necessary,” commented Omer Dembinsky, Data Group Director at CPR.
“Schools and universities also face the unique challenge of engaging with children or young adults, many of whom are using their own devices, working from shared locations, and often connecting to public WiFi without considering the security implications.”
Unfortunately, the researchers don’t expect things to get better in the future — and if anything, they expect things to get worse, thanks to the advent of ChatGPT and other AI-powered solutions.
“Unfortunately, we expect the increase in cyberattack activity to only increase. With AI technologies such as ChatGPT available to the public, it is possible for hackers to create malicious code and emails at a faster and more automated pace,” Dembinski noted.
The researchers concluded that companies must change the way they think about cybersecurity, saying they should shift their focus to prevention, rather than detection.