According to SonicWall’s 2023 Mid-Year Cyber Threat Report, cybercriminals are increasingly shifting away from traditional ransomware attacks towards stealthier methods, with cryptojacking seeing a staggering increase of 399% globally. The data indicates that law enforcement activity, heavy sanctions, and victims’ refusal to pay ransom demands have prompted threat actors to target other means of revenue.
SonicWall’s President and CEO, Bob VanKirk, emphasizes the escalating digital assault on enterprises, governments, and global citizens, urging organizations to be better prepared and build stronger defenses against malicious activities.
The report highlights the rise of cryptojacking, IoT malware, and encrypted threats, signifying a growing complexity in the threat landscape, compelling organizations to reassess their security needs. As ransomware attempts declined globally by 41%, SonicWall’s VP of Product Security, Bobby Cornwell, notes that cybercriminals are adopting lower-cost, less risky attack methods like cryptojacking, resulting in higher levels of cybercrime in regions such as Latin America and Asia.
Despite challenges, financially motivated threat actors remain successful and are strategically shifting targets, favoring crimes with higher certainty of success.
Prominent attacks continue to plague various sectors, causing system downtime, economic losses, and reputational damage. While some industries experienced a decline in ransomware volume, they witnessed a significant growth in cryptojacking attacks, with education (+320X), government (+89X), and healthcare (+69X) being heavily targeted.
SonicWall’s Capture Labs researchers expect state-sponsored activities to target a broader set of victims in 2023, including SMBs, government entities, and enterprises.
The report’s analysis of cyber threats reveals a slight dip in global malware volume (-2%), except for the U.S. and U.K., which experienced notable declines. The increase in malware numbers in Europe (+11%) and Latin America (+19%) suggests a shift in threat actor behavior towards more opportunistic locations.
Though overall ransomware numbers declined globally, there was a potential rebound in Q2, with Germany (+52%) and India (+133%) still facing substantial ransomware attacks. IoT malware saw a significant rise of 37% globally, highlighting the growing threat to connected devices and weak points of entry. Additionally, encrypted threats climbed 22% globally, showcasing another stealthy approach embraced by bad actors.
Despite the decrease in never-before-seen malware variants, the threat landscape remains complex, with nearly 1,000 strains of new variants discovered each day. SonicWall identified a total of 172,146 never-before-seen malware variants in the first half of 2023, down 36% year-over-year. Threat actors are leveraging existing tools and spending less time on research and development, focusing instead on volume-based attacks using open-source tools that may be less likely to be intercepted.