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SonicWall Research: Hackers Attempted 623M Ransomware Attacks in 2021

Cybercrime, piracy and data theft. Network security breach. Compromised computer showing skull and bones symbol. Digital 3D rendering concept.

Nearly all monitored threats, cyberattacks and malicious digital assaults increased in 2021, according to the 2022 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report.

Key findings from SonicWall's reported included:

  • Hackers attempted 623.3 million ransomware attacks globally in 2021, up 105 percent year over year.
  • The number of ransomware attacks increased 98 percent in the United States and 227 percent in the UK year over year.
  • Malware volume declined 4 percent year over year and reached a seven-year low.
  • There was a 167 percent year-over-year increase in encrypted threats.
  • 97.1 million cryptojacking attempts were reported, which represented a 19 percent year-over-year increase.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) malware attack volume totaled 60.1 million and rose 6.1 percent year over year.

Furthermore, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published 20,136 Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) in 2021, SonicWall pointed out. This marks the fifth consecutive in which a record number of vulnerabilities has been discovered, and the first time the number of CVEs has passed the 20,000 mark.

Log4j One of the 'Most Exploited' Vulnerabilities of 2021

The Apache Log4j vulnerability was the final major vulnerability identified in 2021 and quickly became one of the most exploited, SonicWall noted.

From Dec. 11, 2021 to Jan. 31, 2022, SonicWall recorded 142.4 million exploit attempts against Log4j vulnerabilities. This represents an average of 2.7 million Log4j exploit attempts per day.

In addition, cybercriminals have exploited Log4j vulnerabilities most frequently across the scientific and technical community (28 percent) to date, SonicWall indicated. Meanwhile, they have commonly used Log4j vulnerabilities to attack organizations in manufacturing (13 percent), government (9 percent), finance (5 percent), retail (5 percent) and K-12 education (5 percent).

The Bottom Line on Cyber Threats in 2021

Cybercrime has evolved, and it has become increasingly difficult for organizations to protect against, detect and stop cyberattacks, SonicWall stated. As cyberattacks become more advanced than ever before, organizations must be proactive to combat them.

Proactive organizations understand the cyber threat landscape and can adapt accordingly, SonicWall noted. That way, they can act fast to identify and mitigate cyberattacks.

Also, organizations can partner with MSSPs to keep pace with cyber threats. MSSPs can provide security services to help organizations detect and address cyberattacks before they escalate.

Dan Kobialka

Dan Kobialka is senior contributing editor, MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E. He covers IT security, IT service provider business strategies and partner programs. Dan holds a M.A. in Print and Multimedia Journalism from Emerson College and a B.A. in English from Bridgewater State University. In his free time, Dan enjoys jogging, traveling, playing sports, touring breweries and watching football.