Covid drives cybercrime to become "more professional"

10 December 2020 | Melanie Mingas

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The cybercrime ecosystem has become "more structured and professional", due to the huge potential rewards that have emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It's one of three headline trends highlighted by Orange Cyberdefense in its latest Security Navigator report, published today.

Orange said that high profile security breaches, along with heightened awareness across enterprise, has driven end-user awareness of security trends and threats. However, while that would normally be expected to reduce the overall number of attacks, in this case it has driven cyber criminals to become "considerably more structured in 2020".

The result? Cybercrime has become a profession.

The report read: " Being a cybercriminal has become a profession, at least in its organisation.

"Cybercriminals are joining forces to form specialised groups, collaborating and forming an interconnected network. They organise themselves like the companies they target, and use known practices: customer service, malware-as-a-Service, etc."

Analysing 50 billion security events from January to October 2020, the analysis also found there was a constant volume of cyberattacks with "an explosion" of ransomware attacks linked to new business models. Further, there has been an acceleration of IT transformation as a result of the pandemic, creating new risks and security challenges.

"With Security Navigator 2021, our customers and partners have access to our cyber threat analysis. It is based on recognised expertise in threat intelligence and on data collected around the world via the Orange Group's international network," said Hugues Foulon, executive director of strategy and cybersecurity activities at Orange Group.

Foulon added: “In a technical context and with organisations shaken by the Covid crisis, this Security Navigator provides a state of the threat that will usefully enlighten corporate decision-makers".

Looking ahead

Despite the changing cybersecurity trends, Orange Cyberdefense said there had not been a "major explosion" in cyberattacks this year. It did, however, say that attacks were targeting users more, particularly via social engineering, which increased from 1% of attacks in 2019 to 5% in 2020.

The most frequent incidents were network and application anomalies (35%), user account anomalies (23%), and malware (20%).

Ransomware actors have also evolved their approach, for example by monetising not only the availability of data but also its confidentiality. Orange Cyberdefense said that in addition to seeing their data encrypted, companies are increasingly under the threat of having some of it publicly disclosed, an approach that allows for "big game hunting" where large companies are targeted, and ransoms amount to millions of euros.

Looking to 2021, Orange Cyberdefense said it expected to see IoT security develop further and, as remote working remains central to the new normal, the report said businesses need to be prepared for attacks to continue to increase