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The number of global cyber attacks has risen to a new high in the past year. This is according to researchers at Check Point Research in their annual security report. In particular, more attacks by activist hackers, ransomware attacks and attacks on cloud-based networks were noted.

The security specialist’s 2023 Security Report shows that the number of cyber attacks reached a new high last year. In total, researchers noted an average of 1,168 attacks on businesses per week. This is an increase of 38 percent compared to 2021.

As a major reason for the increase in attacks, Check Point Research states current geopolitical developments. In particular, the conflict in Ukraine is said to have contributed to the increase in cyber attacks.

The most attacked sector is still the education and research sector, but healthcare saw the largest increase in cyber attacks in 2022. The number of cyber attacks on the latter sector increased 74 percent compared to a year earlier.

Three key trends

In their research, the experts also discovered several other important trends. First, the number of attacks by so-called “hacktivists” increased significantly in 2022. The researchers note that the separation between real activists and activists operating on behalf of a state is getting smaller and smaller. Also, activists not associated with a national state are increasingly better organized and more effective with their cyber attacks.

Another conclusion is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify and track ransomware attacks. Also, existing protection mechanisms against such attacks would become less effective. Especially if these focus on detecting encryption activity. Therefore, these mechanisms could increasingly focus on data wiping and/or exfiltration.

Furthermore, Check Point Research sees more and more attacks on third-party and cloud-based networks. These types of attacks increased 48 percent in 2022, compared to a year earlier. Cybercriminals are increasingly scanning the IP ranges of cloud providers and more attacks are being carried out on legitimate collaboration tools for hybrid working. This increases the attack surface for businesses, and cybercriminals hope to gain easier access to sensitive information and critical services this way.

Tips for better security

The report also offers companies a number of tips that can help them get their cybersecurity in better order and, in particular, address the most critical security threats. The most important tip the researchers offer is that CISOs should work to increase cybersecurity awareness within their companies.

Knowledge of the current threats and emerging tactics of cybercriminals can go a long way toward protecting companies from attacks in the future, according to Check Point Research.

Other key tips for improved security provided by the research include reducing the cost of cloud environment misconfigurations and using AI more often to detect potential network crises that may escape human attention.

Also read: Ransomware fatal for SMBs: security taken increasingly more seriously