The year 2020 was tough in more ways than one; but cybersecurity may have been one of the most understated and concerning issues. Within the year, cyber attackers targeted hospitals, schools, municipal government and other vulnerable organizations tackling the many challenges that came with the pandemic.

In light of the growing cyber threat, and especially since the pandemic has forced many of us to work online full-time, here are five facts to keep us on our toes—or rather—fingers:

  1. Ransomware attacks are highly sophisticated and planned. While they have been around for decades, average request fees have increased from $5,000 in 2018 to $200,000 in 2020 highlighting the importance of increasing cybersecurity measures.
  2. Sophos, a security software company, surveyed 5,000 IT managers across six continents and found that organizations that do not pay the ransom spend around $732,520 to recover their systems. This includes the cost of working hours required to restore their systems, clean up the damage caused by the attack and strengthen their cybersecurity.
  3. Nobody is safe. Sophos also reported that 59 percent of successful ransomware attacks included encrypted data involved in the public cloud.
  1. There was a massive 388 percent increase in ransomware attacks in the education sector in the past year—a pattern in which cybercriminals slowly exfiltrated data from institutions at the beginning of the school year before requesting for ransom during the third quarter.
  2. Encrypted data has become more secure, as 94 percent of organizations whose data was encrypted were able to get their data back. It is also important to note that backups (56 percent) were twice as more effective than paying the ransom (26 percent) in retrieving the data.

The silver lining in noting the increasing cyber threats may be that companies, governmental agencies and individuals are all learning how to protect themselves better from cyber attacks. Since the first computer virus in 1971, technology has continued to improve for both cybersecurity professionals and cyber attackers. In 2021 and beyond, it will be vital to keep close tabs on the development of the cybersecurity landscape.

Image credit: Ico Maker