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Ransomware attacks surge in India, doubling in first half of 2023

India saw a huge surge in ransomware and IoT (Internet of Things) cyber-attacks in the first half of 2023, as criminals shifted to stealthier means of malicious activities, according to a report by SonicWall.

While major economies like the US and the UK witnessed a decline in ransomware attacks, India (up 133 per cent) and Germany (52 per cent) are among the countries that saw a huge surge in such attacks, the 2023 SonicWall Mid-Year Cyber Threat Report for the January-June period stated.

At the global level, a variety of other attacks have trended up, including cryptojacking (399 per cent), IoT malware (37 per cent) and encrypted threats (22 per cent), the report said.

At the global level, there was a decline of 41 per cent in ransomware attacks.

Cybercriminals are diversifying and expanding their skill sets to attack critical infrastructure, making the threat landscape even more complex and forcing organizations to reconsider their security needs, the report mentioned.

“While India saw a lesser rise in crypto attacks, there has been a huge growth in ransomware and IoT attacks overall. These rises in cyberattacks pose great risks to India’s economic ambitions, with industries from manufacturing to pharmaceuticals becoming more vulnerable as they continue to digitize operations,” Debasish Mukherjee, Vice President Regional Sales, APJ, SonicWall said.

The data suggests increased law enforcement activity, heavy sanctions and victims’ refusal to pay ransom demands have altered criminal conduct, and threat actors are targeting other means of revenue, the report said while explaining the reason for the fall in ransomware attacks at the global level.

“The seemingly endless digital assault on enterprises, governments and global citizens is intensifying, and the threat landscape continues to expand,” said SonicWall President and CEO Bob VanKirk.

Data indicated that threat actors are more opportunistic than ever, targeting schools, state and local governments, and retail organizations at unprecedented rates, the report said.

Prominent attacks continued to plague enterprises, cities, airlines, and K-12 schools, causing widespread system downtime, economic loss and reputational damage, it said.

Cryptojacking attacks on education surged by 320 times, on government by 89 times and on healthcare by 69 times, according to the report.

Global volume of IoT malware rose 37 per cent, totalling almost 78 million hits by the end of June As connected devices continue to rapidly multiply, bad actors are targeting weak points of entry as potential attack vectors into organizations.

“SonicWall intelligence suggests that bad actors are pivoting to lower-cost, less risky attack methods with potentially high returns, like cryptojacking,” said SonicWall Vice President of Product Security Bobby Cornwell.

“It also explains the reason we’re seeing higher levels of cybercrime in regions like Latin America and Asia. Hackers search for the weakest points of entry, with the lightest possible repercussions, limiting their risk and maximizing their potential profits.” PTI

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