Cyberattacks which compromise critical infrastructures or information hijacking at a time when companies are increasingly turning their processes to the digital world, are the key challenges for a hectic 2022 in terms of cybersecurity and in which technologies such as the cloud or automation are expected to prevail in order to deal with these threats, according to A3sec.

The year 2021 saw some of the most serious cyberattacks in recent decades, such as the malware that paralyzed the US Colonial Pipeline and resulted in a US$5 million ransom being paid..

It is estimated that in 2021 alone each data breach generated an average cost of US$4.24 million, with the healthcare sector being one of the hardest hit amid the wave of cyber attacks that took advantage of the coronavirus crisis to launch their malicious campaigns, according to figures from Statista.

The average costs of each of these leaks has been rising since 2014, when it was estimated at around US$3.5 million, peaking at US$4 million in 2016 and reaching its highest level last year.

The fact that millions of households had to be kept indoors because of the pandemic created significant challenges in terms of information flow for organizations, many of which were ill-equipped to handle critical tasks remotely, leaving them exposed to leaks.

Cybersecurity companies have been warning for more than five years about the growing threat posed by ransomware campaigns, and the pandemic only revealed all the weaknesses of organizations around the world, given that 68.5% of them acknowledged having been victims of this cyberattack in 2021, the highest figure on record so far (Statista graph).

The report on The State of Ransomware in Financial Services 2021, by the British firm Sophos, indicates that some of the biggest victims of this type of campaign continue to be financial services and companies in the sector, with 34% of organizations acknowledging having suffered these attacks.

To recover from these types of attacks, companies in the sector paid an average of US$2.1 million, exceeding the global average of US$1.85 million, when taking into account factors ranging from the price of fines imposed by regulatory bodies, to the rebuilding of IT systems and equipment, as well as the blow to reputation (Sophos graph).

Given this scenario, industry specialists agree that the crisis period has represented not only a major economic blow to companies, but also one of the most critical seasons in terms of cybersecurity, leaving scars on organizations of all sizes with overall damages of US$6 trillion and which could exceed $10 trillion by 2025 if the necessary measures are not taken by then.

Considered secondary for several years in many organizations, cybersecurity is now on the radar of companies and governments, to the point that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) considered in a recent report that if Latin America and the Caribbean improve in this field "could move more quickly towards the digital transformation of both the public and private sectors".

Here are the five cybersecurity trends that marked the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022:

  • The cloud: In 2022, companies will increasingly opt to move their information to the hybrid cloud in the face of the rise of digitization in work environments, forcing them to strengthen the security of their servers to prevent the leakage of critical information. Employees who continue to work from home appear to be the perfect target for cyber attackers this year, so hacker strategies are expected to focus on both cloud workloads and data centers.

  • Focus on cryptoassets: with the global boom in cryptocurrencies, cybercriminal campaigns have also evolved to advance fraud against users or carry out direct attacks on the platforms, as has already happened to BitMart in an attack that earned the hackers some US$200 million. These campaigns are expected to continue in 2022 as the cryptocurrency market continues to set records in terms of value.

  • Evolution of ransomware: During 2021, ransomware evolved to include extortion payments based on the recovery of encrypted information. During 2022, this phenomenon involves different types of assets, including the Internet of Things (IoT).

  • Artificial intelligence (AI): The cyber attackers have diversified their strategies to such an extent that they have developed new attacks based on automated experiences and learning, but with this comes security tools that use such technology and defend against AI-based attacks.

  • Automation: its widespread adoption in security processes is emerging to eliminate repetitive tasks. It also helps reduce the operational burden on analysts, resulting in a better focus of resources on the most important activities or those that truly merit the time of a cybersecurity expert.

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