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Targeted cyberattacks saw huge rise in 2019

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/GlebStock)

Targeted attacks are now significantly more popular than mass attacks, which see hackers cast a wide net to catch as many victims as possible.

This is according to a new report from Positive Technologies, which states that 60 percent of all attacks were targeted last year.

The report claims the number of unique cyberattacks rose by almost a fifth (19 percent) year-on-year, while targeted attacks rose by five percent. The overall number of attacks also increased.

Positive Technologies believes that government, industry, healthcare, science and education, and finance were the most targeted sectors last year, with industrial companies accounting for 10 percent of targeted attacks.

While in 2018, only 30 percent of attacks were designed expressly to steal data, in 2019 more than half of the attacks were driven by this motive. According to the report, criminals were most interested in personal data, credentials and credit card numbers.

Ransomware was the most common form of attack, making up 31 percent of all infections, and the average ransom paid was “hundreds of thousands of dollars”. 

As 2019 drew to a close and businesses learned to defend from ransomware, criminal strategies evolved. Attackers began stealing valuable data before encrypting systems and threatening to release it to the public if the company refused to pay the ransom.

Positive Technologies claims ransomware was a “lucrative business” in 2019, and expects a new wave of attacks this year.