New Research Highlights Cybersecurity Threats as Workforces Go Remote

The business landscape changed significantly in 2020, and new research suggests that cyber criminals took note.

The latest threat intelligence from SonicWall Capture Labs, which reflects year-to-date findings through September 2020, shows that while overall malware volume declined for the third consecutive quarter, cybercriminals are increasingly using different means of attack.

“For most of us, 2020 has been the year where we’ve seen economies almost stop, morning commutes end and traditional offices disappear,” says SonicWall president and CEO, Bill Conner. “Unfortunately, the overnight emergence of virtual offices has given cybercriminals new attractive vectors to exploit.”

What do businesses need to know? Consider these key findings from SonicWall:

Malware Volume Dipping

Global malware volume is steadily declining. In a year-over-year comparison through the third quarter, SonicWall researchers recorded a 39% drop worldwide. However, this doesn’t mean it’s going away. Conner warns this could represent a cyclical downturn that could shift course in short order. What’s more, malware authors and cybercriminals are still busy working to launch more sophisticated, targeted and diversified attacks.

Ransomware Erupts

Ransomware attacks are making daily headlines as they wreak havoc on enterprises, municipalities, healthcare organizations and educational institutions. SonicWall researchers tracked a staggering 139% year-over-year increase in the U.S.

A relatively young ransomware family, Ryuk in particular gained popularity in 2020. Whereas there were just 5,123 recorded Ryuk attacks reported through the third quarter of 2019, there were 67.3 million through the third quarter of 2020. This represents one-third of all 2020 ransomware attacks.

“The increase of remote and mobile workforces appears to have increased the prevalence of Ryuk, resulting in financial losses and impacts on healthcare services,” says SonicWall vice president, Platform Architecture, Dmitriy Ayrapetov. “Ryuk is especially dangerous because it’s targeted, manual and often leveraged via a multi-stage attack preceded by Emotet and TrickBot malware. Therefore, if an organization has Ryuk, it’s a pretty good indication that it’s infested with several types of malware.”

So how can businesses protect against Ryuk? SonicWall Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) with patent-pending Real-Time Deep Memory Inspection (RTDMI), protects against all Emotet, TrickBot and Ryuk ransomware variants.

IoT Threats Grow

COVID-19 led to an unexpected flood of devices on networks, resulting in an increase of potential threats to companies fighting to remain operational. SonicWall Capture Labs found a 30% increase in IoT malware attacks worldwide.

Most IoT devices, like voice-activated smart devices and door chimes, were not designed to prioritize security, making them susceptible to attack and supplying perpetrators with numerous entry points.

“Employees once relied upon the safety that office networks provided, but the growth of remote and mobile workforces has extended distributed networks that serve both the house and home office,” says Conner. “Consumers need to consider whether devices like AC controls and baby monitors are safely deployed. For optimum protection, professionals using home offices, especially those in the C-suite, should consider segmenting home networks.”

SonicWall threat intelligence data also concluded that cryptojacking, intrusion attempts and IoT maleware remain sources of opportunity for cybercriminals.

To learn more about the latest threats and solutions, visit

“Our findings show a relentless pursuit by cybercriminals to obtain what’s not rightfully theirs for monetary gain, economic dominance and global recognition,” says Conner. “As changing times require organizations to evolve, they’ll need seamless protection to address emerging cybersecurity threats.”

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