Cybersecurity: Last year was a record year for attacks, and Log4j made it worse

Check Point Research said that among its customers, there was a 50% increase in overall attacks per week on corporate networks compared to 2020.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

Cybersecurity firm Check Point Research has released new data from 2021 showing that among their customers, there was a significant increase in overall cyberattacks per week on corporate networks compared to 2020.

Researchers attributed some of the increases, which were concentrated toward the end of the year, to the Log4j vulnerability discovered in December. Check Point said in a report that 2021 was a record-breaking year for cyberattacks and the Log4J vulnerability only made things worse.

"Last year, we saw a staggering 50% more cyber attacks per week on corporate networks compared to 2020 -- that's a significant increase. We saw cyberattack numbers peak towards the end of the year, largely due to the Log4j vulnerability exploit attempts," said Omer Dembinsky, data research manager at Check Point Software.  

"New penetration techniques and evasion methods have made it much easier for hackers to execute malicious intentions. What's most alarming is that we're seeing some pivotal societal industries surge into the most attacked list. Education, government and healthcare industries made it into the top 5 most attacked industries list worldwide." 

Check Point Research

Check Point found that for 2021, overall attacks per week on corporate networks grew 50% compared to 2020, and in Q4, they saw an all-time high in weekly cyberattacks per organization of 925. 

Check Point's customers in the education and research space dealt with an average of 1,605 attacks per organization every week, the highest volume of attacks they saw. This represented a 75% increase compared to 2020. The government, defense, military, and communications industries were not far behind, averaging around 1,100 attacks weekly per organization.

When they broke their internal data down by region, they found organizations on the African continent saw the highest volume of attacks in 2021, with an average of 1,582 weekly attacks per organization. Organizations in the APAC region saw an average of 1,353 weekly attacks per organization, while Latin America dealt with 1,118 attacks weekly and Europe saw 670 attacks weekly. North America was last with a weekly average of 503. 

Check Point Research

Check Point bases its numbers off of its internal ThreatCloud tool that pulls data from hundreds of millions of sensors worldwide. 

Dembinsky said he expected the numbers to increase for 2022 as hackers "continue to innovate and find new methods to execute cyberattacks, especially ransomware." 

"We're in a cyber pandemic if you will. I strongly urge the public, especially those in the education, government and healthcare sectors, to learn the basics on how to protect themselves," Dembinsky said. "Simple measures such as patching, segmenting your networks and educating employees can go a long way in making the world safer." 

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