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A forecast on cyber attacks.

Cyber attacks to increase with criminals using new technology

Cyber attacks are expected to further increase as a criminal threat affecting the EU. Cybercriminals are likely to further embrace new technologies and maximise the reach of their services, with sensitive data as a core target. The crime-as-a-service ecosystem will further develop in order to service a wider criminal base, Europol says in a report on cyber crime

Public organisations and digital service providers remained the sectors most targeted by different cyber-attacks in the first half of 2022 . The high number of attacks against public administrations is likely influenced by the invasion of Ukraine, which has politicised the hacker underground and brought forth a wave of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against EU countries condemning Russia’s actions, the report says. 

“Ransomware groups have remained the most outstanding threat and have established a clear approach of going after international companies, public organisations, critical infrastructure and essential services.

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Key findings

  • Malware-based cyber-attacks, specifically ransomware, remain the most prominent threat with a broad reach and a significant financial impact on industry.
  • Ransomware affiliate programs have become established as the main form of business organisation for ransomware groups who continue deploying multi-layered extortion methods, with indications that the theft of sensitive information might become the core threat.
  • Phishing emails containing malware, Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) brute forcing and Virtual Private Network (VPN) vulnerability exploitation are the most common intrusion tactics used by cybercriminals. Legitimate software and tools built into operating systems are then misused to establish persistence and traverse their victims’ networks.
  • The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine led to a significant boost in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against EU targets. The most noticeable DDoS attacks were politically motivated and coordinated by pro-Russian hacker groups.
  • High-tier cybercriminals benefit greatly from the increased activity on criminal marketplaces and of selling stolen data.
  • The war of aggression against Ukraine and Russia’s internal politics have uprooted cybercriminals pushing them to move to other jurisdictions.
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