Cyber extortion dominates the threat landscape

Cyber extortion is impacting businesses of all sizes across the world, and 82 percent of observed are small businesses, an increase from 78 percent last year.

The latest Security Navigator report from Orange Cyberdefense shows a marked slow-down in cybercrime at the onset of the Ukraine war, but intensity soon increasing again.

Over the last six months, for example, the number of cyber extortion victims in East Asia and South East Asia has grown by 30 percent and 33 percent respectively. From 2021 to 2022 victim volumes increased in the European Union by 18 percent, in the UK by 21 percent, and by a whopping 138 percent in the Nordic countries. However, volumes decreased by eight percent in North America and 32 percent in Canada.

About four and a half times more small businesses are falling victim to cyber extortion than medium and large businesses combined, while the public sector occupies the figth highest portion of incidents in Orange’s CyberSOCs.

The manufacturing sector remains the number one industry in terms of cyber extortion victim count, though the research shows it ranks only fifth among industries most willing to pay ransoms. Interestingly in this sector criminals are compromising 'conventional' IT systems, rather than the more specialized operational technology. Perhaps not too surprising as businesses in this sector take an average of 232 days to patch reported vulnerabilities.

For the first time, Security Navigator 2023 includes proprietary data on the patch levels of almost five million mobile devices. In 2021 there have been 547 vulnerabilities reported for Android and 357 for iOS. 79 percent of Android vulnerabilities are considered to have a low attack complexity (trivial for actors to exploit) compared with just 24 percent for iOS.

The findings show that a higher proportion of iPhone users are at risk of being vulnerable when a security issue is first disclosed, due to the homogeneous nature of the ecosystem. Users migrate to a new version quickly, however, with 70 percent updating within 51 days of the patch being released. The more fractured nature of the Android ecosystem means that devices are often left vulnerable to more old exploits, while fewer may be vulnerable to new exploits.

"The last few months were particularly dense in terms of macroenvironmental events, nevertheless the cybersecurity ecosystem emerges more vigilant and united as a result. Cyberattacks are making headlines, and the war in Ukraine is a resounding reminder that our digitized world is also the field of virtual battles." says Hugues Foulon, CEO of Orange Cyberdefense. "The encouraging overall slowdown in the number of incidents for our most mature customers (+five percent compared to +13 percent the previous year) shows that we are able to win battles against malicious actors. However, these successes should not slow down our efforts in the fight against cybercrime. This year's results highlight the challenges faced by organizations of all sizes. Threats are evolving, becoming more complex, coming from all directions and underlining the importance of the work we will continue to do to adapt to the threat and support our customers in this fight."

The full report is available from the Orange site.

Image credit: photography33/

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