2021 One of the Worst Ever for Cybercrime

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Wednesday, December 22, 2021 - 6:26am

Cyberattacks on major technology providers and the interconnected world of software and hardware that power the global economy continued at a relentless pace in 2021. Instead of one company at a time being victimized in a traditional data breach, thousands were often exposed simultaneously. Businesses, hospitals and schools also worked to defend themselves against an onslaught of ransomware attacks, which increasingly reap $10 million dollars or more in extortion payments, the Wall Street Journal reports. U.S. officials and security experts said the past year has been one of the worst on record for cybersecurity, marked not just by such repeated discoveries of bugs considered historic in their scope and potential severity but an onslaught of ransomware attacks on businesses and critical infrastructure as well.

Last December, cybersecurity professionals began to unravel an extraordinary cyberattack on a little-known company based in Texas called SolarWinds. By hijacking the firm's software-update mechanism, the hackers had gained the means for covert entry into their choice of thousands of unsuspecting customers. This month, the flaw found in Log4j, a routine piece of free software, prompted especially grave warnings, with some officials estimating that hundreds of millions of devices are at risk. The reliance on intertwined software and hardware ensures that a vulnerability hidden in a tool such as Log4j can cause wide-ranging disruption. A hack of the Microsoft Corp. Exchange email software in March, later attributed by Western nations to China, rendered tens of thousands of victims across the globe vulnerable to destructive attacks. In July, an attack on Dutch enterprise-software provider Kaseya by a criminal gang of Russian hackers was used as a springboard to launch ransomware strikes. "When there's a risk in one part of the system, it has the potential for a global ripple effect," said Sherri Davidoff of the cyber firm LMG Security.

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