Cyber attacks skyrocketed in 2019. The threats of phishing grew by 640% during 2019 compared to the figures of the previous year Meanwhile he malware targeting the Windows 7 operating system increased 125%, according to the Webroot 2020 Cyber Threat Report by Opentext. The attacks of phishing They are those in which cybercriminals pose as a trusted company or person to collect confidential information from a user. According to the report, the main websites supplanted by cybercriminals with phishing techniques are Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google, PayPal and Dropbox.
The countries that had the highest risk of these attacks in 2019 were the United States, the Netherlands, Russia, Germany, Italy, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa and Singapore, according to the document. “The most exposed countries are the most technological, just as the countries that provide services worldwide are the sweet tooth for hackers”Says Iván Martínez, professor in the software engineering and artificial intelligence department from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). However, experts do not explain the growth of attacks in less developed countries (except for reasons of industrial espionage).
The cryptocurrency exchange pages are the most supplanted, followed by games, email, financial institutions and payment services. Experts have noted an increase in cryptojacking. This English term refers to the theft of cryptocurrencies as bitcoin. “As they are stored in a digital folder, the attacker can impersonate the page where they are collected. Although it is much more complex, in the end it works as if it were an account number or a virtual wallet that can be stolen ”, explains José Luis Vázquez, professor of the computer department and automatic of the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM).
The report details that 8.9 million of the URLs in 2019 contained a script (that is, a document with instructions in programming codes) for which cryptocurrencies are stolen or generated. “Anyone can be the target of these attacks, even if they do not have these types of coins or are not related to that world,” adds Vázquez.
Cryptocurrencies are created or discovered through a technique called cryptocurrency mining. “This requires an intensive use of computing resources and cyber criminals, instead of investing money, dedicate themselves to infecting computers so that they work for them. In short, without realizing it, a company pays the bill and they keep the benefits, ”explains Eusebio Nieva, CheckPoint technical director for Spain and Portugal.
The IP addresses associated with exploits Windows grew 360% in 2019 compared to the previous year, according to the report. “They are attacks that are identified with specific IP addresses. When the cybercriminal wants to control a computer, he first registers the domain and connects through it. That is to say, exploit are the set of commands needed to change a computer to administrator mode “, adds Nieva.
The report notes that 93.6% of the malware It is unique to a single computer and that is the highest rate ever observed. The malware It is a software that tries to do some type of damage. “Among them are the more than well-known viruses, worms (which do not have a permanent effect on the computer), Trojans (which claim to control a remote machine without the legitimate user being aware of it) and the ransomware as the well-known Wannacry that kidnapped the data of the equipment”, Explains José Luis Vázquez, professor of the computer and automatic department from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). Experts assure that, to combat them, the first thing is to identify the type of threat. “Many times it is necessary to carry out containment measures because it is impossible to eradicate the malware although it is possible to isolate it in one or more equipment to prevent it from spreading, ”adds Vázquez.
Additionally, personal computers are the devices most likely to get infected, with almost twice the risk as business computers. The study reveals that, of the infected personal devices, more than 35% were seen in this situation more than three times and about 10% were infected six or more times. “The report’s findings underscore that both companies and users of any type and size must not only protect their data, but also protect themselves against future attacks,” says Jorge Martínez, Regional Director of OpenText in Spain.
Cyber resilience is the ability to adapt to different cyber threats. “Institutions have to adapt to changes by improving the protection of their devices and the training of employees,” says José Luis Vázquez, professor in the computer and automation department at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM).
Experts agree that the key is to invest in employees. “Many times the security of license payment gives us false security. A good training plan for employees, a good hiring policy and an incentive plan for the employees themselves to make them understand that the company and its computer barriers are very important are worth more than 5,000 licenses together for different solutions, because in the end the weakest link is the human factor, ”concludes Vázquez.