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Cybercrime saw an 'explosion' in 2020

security
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Golden Sikorka)

Various factors combined to make 2020 a “perfect storm” for cybercrime, a new report from security firm SonicWall claims.

The remote working explosion, proliferation of cloud-based solutions and apps, and rise in the value of cryptocurrencies all contributed to growth in cybercriminal activity.

Analyzing the 2020 threat landscape, SonicWall said ransomware reached new heights, with the number of incidents growing by 62 percent. The Ryuk variant, for example, rose from obscurity to stardom last year, eventually overtaking the top-ranking Cerber variant. It now boasts more than 109.9 million detected cases worldwide.

But it’s not just ransomware that became more pervasive last year. There was also a 74 percent increase in never-before-seen malware variants year-on-year, SonicWall claims, with 268,326 new malware strains detected.

For phishing, PDF files are no longer the preferred choice among cybercriminals, who have shifted to using Office files instead. While the number of malicious Office files grew 67 percent year-on-year, the number of PDFs dropped by 22 percent.

With Bitcoin repeatedly breaking all-time highs, cryptojacking made a return as well. There were 81.9 million incidences of cryptojacking last year, representing growth of 28 percent over 2019.

“Threats that were once thought to be two or three years away are now a reality, with do-it-yourself, cloud-based tools creating an army of cybercriminals armed with the same devastating force and impact of a nation-state or larger criminal enterprise,” said Bill Conner, SonicWall President and CEO.

“Organizations must remain vigilant and proactive in hardening their cybersecurity posture.”