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LATAM | Sep 17, 2021

Ransomware attacks increased tenfold in the past year, Fortinet reports

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Latin America suffers more than 91 billion attempted cyberattacks in first half of 2021

(Photo: Security Magazine)

The increase in the number of cyberattack attempts continued in the first half of 2021, according to Fortinet, a world leader in broad, integrated, and automated cybersecurity solutions.

According to data from FortiGuard Labs, Fortinet’s threat intelligence lab, Latin America suffered more than 91 billion attempted cyberattacks in 2021.

Mexico ranks first in attack attempts so far in 2021, with 60.8 billion, followed by Brazil (16.2 billion), Peru (4.7 billion), and Colombia (3.7 billion).

“The expansion of the attack surface provided by hybrid work-teaching models is still a great opportunity for criminals. We, therefore, see a growing number of attacks on IoT devices and vulnerable resources used in meetings and classes, such as cameras and microphones,” says Arturo Torres, FortiGuard Strategist for Latin America and the Caribbean. 

“The increase is worrisome not only because of the high volume of threats, but also for the consequences they may have, giving rise to sophisticated crimes such as ransomware, which stand out both for the economic loss and the damage to the reputation of the business,” Torres added.

Ransomware on the rise

Global data from FortiGuard Labs shows that the average weekly ransomware activity in June 2021 was ten times higher than a year ago, demonstrating a steady increase over the period.

Globally, organisations in the telecommunications sector were the most under attack, followed by the government, then the automotive and manufacturing sectors. Data shows that ransomware remains a very present risk for all organisations, regardless of industry or size.

Arturo Torres, FortiGuard Strategist for Latin America and the Caribbean. (Photo contributed)

Fortinet also notes that there has been an evolution in the model used by attackers, with the growth of so-called Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS), where some cybercriminals focus on obtaining and selling initial access to corporate networks, which fuels even more cybercrime. 

For example, in July of this year, FortiGuard Labs found a Ransomware-as-a-Service called “Blackmatter,” which includes a ransomware “package,” payment sites, and operational manuals for its members and affiliates to infect the target with the tools provided. Access to corporate networks in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, potentially coming from company employees, was offered for values ranging from $ 3,000 to $ 100,000.

“To address this issue, organizations must take a proactive approach that includes real-time cloud, network and endpoint protection, including automated threat detection and response with artificial intelligence, and All with a Zero Trust Access approach, especially for IoT devices,” Torres explained. 

“Besides, the ongoing cybersecurity awareness for all employees is essential to turn them into the first barrier against social engineering scams, which can generate big problems for companies,” he said.

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