India second in list of countries facing cyberattacks in Asia-Pacific in 2020: IBM Security Report

India was second on the list of Asia-Pacific countries which faced the most cyberattacks in 2020, revealed a new report by IBM Security X-Force. India faced seven per cent of all attacks in Asia in the previous year with Japan on top. Globally, Europe was the most affected continent with over 31 per cent attacks accounted for, and the majority being ransomware attacks.

As per the 2021 X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, finance and insurance was the most affected sector in India as it faced 60 per cent of the attacks. In 2020, most of the attacks on companies in India were observed from May to July period, adds the report. 

Cyber attackers took advantage of the conditions created by the Covid-19 pandemic globally and targeted sectors like hospitals, medical and pharmaceutical manufacturers and others as companies. The reason was that these sectors were part of the Covid-19 supply chain and could not afford downtime, and thus had to pay off the ransomware eventually.

“We also witnessed cybercriminals using relief efforts and public health information as spam lures including targeted attacks on critical components of the vaccine supply chain. These all remain issues in 2021,” Sudeep Das, Security Software Technical Sales Leader, IBM Technology Sales, India/South Asia said.

60 per cent of ransomware attacks that the security company included in its report used a double extortion strategy as attackers encrypted, stole the data and then threatened to leak it if their ransom demand was not met. The report suggests that data breaches and ransomware attacks are beginning to collide. This conclusion is based on 36 per cent of data breaches that came from ransomware attacks involved alleged data theft as well.

In the pandemic-stricken year, ransomware was found to be the top attack type. One of the commonly observed groups during this time, Sodinokibi made an estimated profit of over $123 million in 2020. The report also revealed that two-thirds of Sodinokibi’s victims ended up paying the ransom. Europe felt the brunt of insider threat attacks as well as facing twice as many attacks as North America and Asia combined.

The report also includes the top 10 list of the most spoofed brands of the year. Google was the most spoofed brand followed by Dropbox, YouTube, Facebook Amazon, Apple, Adidas, Microsoft, PayPal and WhatsApp. Adidas made its way to the list because of its Yeezy and Superstar sneaker lines. After becoming one of the top-selling sneakers for Adidas in 2019, attackers used the hype to make money as the next sneaker was expected to release early in 2020.

A different pattern was also noted by X-Force as exploiting vulnerabilities surpassed phishing as the most common infection vector. After a long time, scanning and exploiting for vulnerabilities was recorded at 35 per cent which was slightly more than phishing-related attacks (31 per cent).

The report mentions that the data collected is “based on insights and observations from monitoring over 150 billion security events per day in more than 130 countries”.

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