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US is prey to 156 ‘significant’ cyber attacks since 2006

July 20, 2020

Posted by: Anasia D'mello

Darren James of Specops Software

The prevalence and severity of cyber attacks are increasing at an alarming rate every year. So say statistics from Cybersecurity Ventures which estimates that cybercrime will cost the global economy a colossal US$6 trillion (€5 trillion) per year by 2021.

Specops Software has analysed the latest data from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to discover which countries across the world have experienced the most cyber attacks classified as significant between May 2006 – June 2020.

Significant cyber attacks are defined as cyber attacks on a country’s government agencies, defense and high-tech companies, or economic crimes with losses equating to more than a million dollars.

Specops Software found that America has been victim to the most cyber attacks categorised as significant (156) between May 2006 – June 2020. This averages 11 serious cyber attacks each year since 2006.

One of the most recent (May 2020) breaches aimed towards the USA has been brought to light by the National Security Agency (NSA), which found that Russian hackers are exploiting a bug in a commonly used email server to infiltrate sensitive data from American organisations.

The target country in second position is the United Kingdom. The UK has seen 47 cyber attacks categorised as significant since May 2006 to June 2020. One of the 47 incidents was a large-scale cyber attack deployed across the Labour Party’s digital platforms during the 2019 general election.

Falling prey to 23 significant cyber attacks, rising industrial power India ranks in third place. Meanwhile, Germany is in fourth spot, having faced 21 substantial cyber attacks during 2006 to 2020.

Australia is in sixth place with 16 momentous cyber attacks recorded. The most recent compromise was announced in June 2020 by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who said Australia’s government agencies and essential businesses / services were being targeted by large-scale sophisticated cyber attacks.

China, Iran and Saudi Arabia have each experienced the same number (15) of significant cyber attacks in the same period.

At the other end of the spectrum, North Korea has only been hit by five significant cyber attacks. It has fared much better than neighbouring South Korea, which has suffered 18 major cyber attacks.

Darren James, a cyber security expert from Specops Software comments: “No one can rest on their laurels when it comes to cyber security. This research highlights the frequency of cyber attacks which have devastatingly affected key political, social and economic institutions within different countries. Whilst some countries have had to deal with more cyber attacks classified as significant than others, it’s an important reminder for those in notable positions of power the role they can play in providing the public sufficient and continual governance on what online best practices they can implement to prevent their IT estate from being exploited by opportunistic cyber criminals.”

Top three tips for achieving high cyber security standards

  1. Stay up to date

Keep anti-virus software up-to-date, apply the latest security patches and periodically change passwords (i.e. at least once a month) across your IT estate.

  1. Assess IT ecosystem

If you have the knowledge and capabilities to do so, then carry out a regular diagnostic of your IT systems to identify any vulnerabilities that could be targeted and exposed.

  1. Provide guidance

If you own a business or are a key decision maker in a company, then take the initiative to create a formal document which firmly states the company’s policies on cyber security. Clearly establishing what individuals can and cannot do with the company’s IT systems/networks/devices.

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