The integration of technology into almost every component of human life not only opens up new possibilities, but also offers countless undefined gateways for criminal activities. New technologies are being introduced much faster than the security can be verified and guaranteed. Cyberspace is changing rapidly, and so are the methods used by hackers and fraudsters.

Why is cyber-crime one of the global threats, what role will artificial intelligence play in the future of cyber attacks and their defense, and why are hackers increasingly targeting Microsoft Office 365? These topics will be the subjects of the first Hornetsecurity Cyberthreat Report in 2020. In addition, current statistics and exclusive assessments by experts from the Hornetsecurity Security Lab provide a detailed insight into the threat landscape of the cyber world.

A global threat

What do droughts, tidal waves, drinking water crises and cyber-crime have in common? They are all among the global threats that endanger our lives, daily. Cyber-crime is now in its third consecutive year, as the increase in professional and targeted cyber attacks has revealed a growing potential threat to national and global security. In particular, the collapse of critical infrastructures caused by cyber attacks currently ranks second amongst the risks to our world.

The security of IT infrastructures is becoming increasingly important in people’s and companies’ minds – a full 92 percent of those surveyed in a TÜV study see cyber attacks as a serious threat … And rightly so. In addition to image damage, monetary losses also play a major role.

Critical infrastructures: When electricity no longer flows

Critical infrastructures are increasingly at risk of being hit with cyber attacks. According to an analysis by experts from the Hornetsecurity Security Labs, the energy industry has been the most attacked sector since the beginning of 2019! Where does this trend come from? A cyber attack on a utility company puts great pressure on operators because the consequences are devastating. A prolonged power failure, for example, not only leads to bottlenecks in the supply of food, but medicines can also no longer be cooled.  Due to their vulnerability and their impact on the public good, the cyber security of critical infrastructures deserves special attention.

Endangered industries

The IT experts from the Hornetsecurity Security Lab have come to an interesting conclusion: According to an analysis of the top 1000 domains with the largest e-mail volume, the energy sector in particular as already mentioned is a huge target, but also the logistics and automotive sectors are also major targets of cyber attacks. The attack vectors used by cyber-criminals are striking. For example, the Security Lab has found that attacks on the energy sector use particularly malicious links, as many anti-spam solutions can detect viruses even in the attachment. Cyber-criminals are using new methods to spread malware and circumvent old security features.

Ransomware & Emotet

In October 2019, the FBI warned of a wave of attacks with ransomware. The last time there was a report of this kind was in 2016, shortly before WannaCry and NotPetya. A successful attack with ransomware can lead to complete failures of entire networks and thus not only cause considerable disruptions to operations but also immense monetary losses. Ransomware is no longer just a simple Trojan – but is increasingly developing into a business model.

What is the most dangerous malware in the world? Emotet. Why? Since its first appearance in 2014, Emotet has been steadily developed. Now the malware no longer just reads contact relationships from the history, but even the content of emails. This provides cyber-criminals with a basis for targeted social engineering attacks.

Microsoft Office 365: The hacker’s favorite child

The outsourcing of IT infrastructures is becoming increasingly popular, especially with companies and organizations. In the future, it is likely that a large proportion of data traffic will be carried over the cloud. Microsoft’s Office 365 Cloud is one of the most popular services of this kind, with the number of subscribers increasing by 320 percent between 2015 and 2017.

But why is the Microsoft Office Cloud so vulnerable? Around 100 million business customers use the Microsoft Office 365 Suite – sensitive data, company secrets and personal information are exchanged and stored there. But the high user numbers also attract cybercriminals. As early as 2018, for example, a considerable increase in attacks was identified. According to Recorded Future, Microsoft ranked eight places on the top ten list of most exploited vulnerabilities – six of these vulnerabilities in Office applications.

What’s next?

One thing is clear: the threat posed by cybercriminals is growing – for private individuals or companies. The new Hornetsecurity Cyberthreat Report gives a detailed insight into the current threat situation, shows statistics on spam and phishing and provides many more exclusive assessments from the IT experts of the Hornetsecurity Sec Lab. Request the report now for free!