Global malware attacks increase in the first half of 2022 because of geopolitical unrest

Threats in Ukraine significantly rose in June amid a 'reconfiguration of the world’s cyber front lines', says SonicWall

Crypto-jacking and Internet of Things malware surged in the first half of 2022, according to SonicWall. Getty Images
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Global malware attacks rose about 11 per cent annually to more than 2.8 billion in the first half of 2022, the first rise in such incidents in more than three years, a study by cyber security company SonicWall has found.

The cyber attacks were led by crypto-jacking and Internet of Things malware, which rose 30 per cent and 77 per cent, respectively, on an annual basis during the first six months of the year, the California-based company said in its mid-year report.

Despite reaching a seven-year low in 2021, malware volumes began to rise in the second half — a trend that has continued into the first half of 2022, with the average reaching 8,240 attempts per customer, the report said.

In particular, the Ukraine conflict caused a spike in malware attempts in the country to about 5.8 million in June, from roughly 31,000 in January.

"Cyber crime has been a global phenomenon for decades. But with geopolitical forces accelerating the reconfiguration of the world’s cyber front lines, the true danger presented by threat actors is coming to the fore — particularly among those that once saw the smallest share of attacks," Bill Conner, president and chief executive of SonicWall, wrote in the report.

Malware — a programme typically designed to disrupt or gain unauthorised access into a system — constitutes one of the biggest threats in the IT industry.

It is part of the wider cyber crime sector projected to cause global financial damages of about $10.5 trillion by 2025, according to Cybersecurity Ventures.

In terms of the spread in malware volumes, Slovenia had the highest chance of experiencing an attack in the first half of the year at more than 33 per cent. Luxembourg was deemed the "safest" country, with only a 7.3 per cent chance of a spread. The UAE was ranked 13th globally.

By industry, education remained the sector highest at risk, with an average of more than 21 per cent of users aimed at, followed by the government, health care and retail industries.

Finance, a lucrative industry for cyber criminals, fared better than other sectors with 15.2 per cent of users targeted.

Updated: July 29, 2022, 4:30 AM