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On the 11th of November, Europol published the Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) 2021, a report that underlines the fact that, in the past year, ransomware threat actor groups had in focus high-profile targets, meaning that big enterprises and government institutions represented those targets which they most directed their attention to.

The Europol report also shows that the homeworking pattern implemented by many companies has facilitated the road to more cyberattacks, as hackers took advantage of this work-from-home policy. It was also noticed a growth in extortion techniques for financial institutions, businesses, and service providers, for example, an increase in distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

The AVP Northern Europe at Imperva, by his name Chris Waynforth, also shared some comments related to the findings the report revealed:

This is further evidence of how much of a threat ransom attacks pose to businesses, including those that go beyond ransomware. Our research has seen a surge in ransom-focused DDoS attacks, partly because they can be even easier to carry out than ransomware attacks. It’s no coincidence that the number of DDoS attacks has quadrupled in the last year. Using rapid-fire attacks, averaging just 6 minutes, cyber-criminals demonstrate their capabilities to businesses before sending an extortion demand, threatening much larger attacks if payments aren’t made.


The Europol Report: More Details

The report under discussion emphasized many points regarding the threat actors’ behavior. In this sense, it was observed how they often preferred supply chain attacks, sometimes attacking the “weakest link” in an organization to perform these kinds of cyberattacks.

Explicit children material posted online by the children themselves was another concerning discovery presented in the report. In the pandemic period, children spent a lot of time online, being unsupervised, this leading to them being lured to create and further share explicit content of themselves. This happened usually on social media sites and gaming platforms where they were fooled by differents individuals with false identities to do so.

Scams through online shopping were another popular trend that characterized the year that passed, thus hackers took advantage of the pandemic, and that people did more online shopping to scam them. Mobile malware also experienced a growth with threat actors trying to bypass Multi-Factor Authentication techniques.

International Cooperation Helped in the Cybercrime Fight

The Europol executive director, by her name Catherine De Bolle, made a statement declaring that law enforcement actions efforts were important in the mitigation of cyberattacks.

Worldwide operations, such as the successful takedown of EMOTET botnet, have demonstrated the effectiveness of international cooperation. Ransomware groups have attempted to disrupt critical infrastructures, such as service providers and government institutions, to increase their profits with no concern for the possible damages such interceptions may cause to public safety and security. To this, the collective response of our international law enforcement community is clear: the authorities and the private sector worldwide stand strong and ready to mitigate together any threat that blackmails the stability of our societies.


How Can Heimdal™ Help?

Ransomware is a well-known threat nowadays, targeting businesses and making more and more victims through its extortion techniques. This requires the urgent implementation of proper cybersecurity solutions. Our traffic filtering tool at the domain level named Threat Prevention, can detect future threats with a 96% accuracy. Complemented by our Ransomware Encryption Protection product, a 100% signature-free solution that will keep encryption attempts away, they will make for the perfect combo to keep your business safeguarded.

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Andra Andrioaie

Security Enthusiast

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Hi! My name is Andra and I am a passionate writer interested in a variety of topics. I am curious about the cybersecurity world and what I want to achieve through what I write is to keep you curious too!