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Banking and healthcare are top targets for cyberattacks

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Banking and healthcare are top targets for cyberattacks

After years of healthcare providers delaying investment in their IT and OT systems, patient data is now vulnerable (photo: CC0 Public Domain)

Financial institutions, food retailers and healthcare providers are among the most frequently targeted by cybercriminals. 60% of all attacks target these three key industries, according to BlackBerry’s new quarterly cybercrime report.

The BlackBerry Threat Research and Intelligence team analyzed more than 1.5 million cyberattacks in the 89 days between December 1, 2022 and February 28, 2023. These threats included approximately 1.5 unique malware attacks per minute. As one might expect, continued tensions in the geopolitical environment are fueling many of the attacks and defining the cybersecurity threat landscape.

“The first weeks of 2023 have shown that this year will remain a difficult time for many organizations and people around the world,” said Ismael Valenzuela, vice president of research and threats at BlackBerry. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to be a leading factor in many of the cyber attacks. The trend is likely to continue into the next quarter and possibly well beyond, analysts from the well-known company predict.

Growth of cyberattacks in the healthcare industry

The process of digitizing healthcare is proving to be a breeding ground for cyber attackers and highlights the need for providers to secure devices and protect patient data from cyber threats. Aging and insecure infrastructure can create vulnerabilities in healthcare systems. At the same time, new technologies can introduce not only conveniences but also risks if not implemented in conjunction with appropriate security measures.

The findings of BlackBerry’s analysis coincide with other recently released research from Tenable, which in April also spoke of an “alarming shift in the tactics of cybercriminals”: they are now focusing their attacks on targets with no significant financial fortunes, but where strikes have the ability to cause major damage – health organizations.

“We’ve seen a growing interest in high-quality healthcare information over the past two years, as cybercriminals are aware that healthcare providers have historically delayed investment in their IT and OT systems, as well as their IT teams,” said Scott McKinnell, regional manager at Tenable. He explains that cyber-attacks in healthcare can have severe consequences, from financial losses to disruption of critical medical services, compromised patient information.

“Analyzing the customer cases affected by recent healthcare attacks, we find that people are being notified of how their data has appeared on the dark web for sale. This highlights the seriousness of the situation and the urgent need for improved cyber security measures.”

Top 10 countries with cyberattacks in the first quarter of 2023

The United States still sees the highest number of cyberattacks, according to BlackBerry’s analysis. However, the analyzed quarter was marked by a change in the overall landscape, positioning Brazil as the second most targeted country, followed by Canada and Japan. Singapore also appears on the list of countries whose organizations are most viciously attacked.

The threats are getting bolder

“Commercial” malware remained a prevalent issue in the threat landscape this quarter. It is used for threats to businesses of all sizes and with varying levels of sophistication. Easily available either in free format or as cheap, paid Malware as a service (MaaS) offerings on dark forums and exchanges, these attack tools are powerful and feature-rich, such as for use in stealing data and creating back doors.

Growth in the use of AI to automate attacks

Critical infrastructure will always be a target for threats, whether they are financially or politically motivated. The use of master fakes has been eased thanks to the development of artificial intelligence. This kind of tool has already gained popularity and defines the entire threat landscape, with the well-known ChatGPT being just one example of the trend in action. Like all new technologies, cybercriminals are the most innovative and have quickly found a way to use AI for their criminal purposes.

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