Majority of cyberattacks are Russian: Microsoft report

Majority of cyberattacks are Russian: Microsoft report

During the past year, 58% of all cyber attacks observed by Microsoft from nation-states have come from Russia. And attacks from Russian nation-state actors are increasingly effective, jumping from a 21% successful compromise rate last year to a 32% rate this year, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, responsible for security, Tom Burt, writes in a blog post presenting the company’s second annual Digital Defense Report

“Russian nation-state actors are increasingly targeting government agencies for intelligence gathering, which jumped from 3% of their targets a year ago to 53% – largely agencies involved in foreign policy, national security or defence. The top three countries targeted by Russian nation-state actors were the United States, Ukraine and the UK.”

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“As online threats increase in volume, sophistication and impact we must all take steps to strengthen the first line of defense. Fewer than 20% of our customers are using strong authentication features like multifactor authentication, or MFA”, he writes.

  • After Russia, the largest volume of attacks Microsoft observed came from North Korea, Iran and China;  South Korea, Turkey (new in the defense reports) and Vietnam were also active but represent much less volume.
  • While espionage is the most common goal for nation-state attacks, some attacker activities reveal other goals, including:
  • Iran, which quadrupled its targeting of Israel in the past year and launched destructive attacks among heightened tensions between the two countries
  • North Korea, which targeted cryptocurrency companies for profit as its economy was decimated by sanctions and Covid-19
  • 21% of attacks observed across nation-state actors targeted consumers and 79% targeted enterprises with the most targeted sectors being government (48%), NGOs and think tanks (31%), education (3%), intergovernmental organizations (3%), IT (2%), energy (1%) and media (1%).

“While China is not unique in its goal of information collection, it has been notable that several Chinese actors have used a range of previously unidentified vulnerabilities”, Burt writes.

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He says the top five industries targeted in the past year based on ransomware are consumer retail (13%), financial services (12%), manufacturing (12%), government (11%) and health care (9%).

“The United States is by far the most targeted country, receiving more than triple the ransomware attacks of the next most targeted nation. The U.S. is followed by China, Japan, Germany and the United Arab Emirates.”

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