Cybercrime may be a global issue, but the United States is by far the chief target of serious cyberattacks, with the United Kingdom ranking second, according to a recent report from Specops Software.
Global cybercrime damages are expected to reach $6 trillion annually by 2021, according to Cybercrime Magazine.
Between 2006 and June 2020, the U.S. experienced 156 significant cyberattacks, according to data from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
“Significant” cyberattacks are defined as assaults on government agencies, defense and high-tech companies, or economic crimes with losses equivalent to more than $1 million, according to Specops.
The most recent attack was in May 2020, brought to light by the National Security Agency (NSA), which involved Russian hackers who exploited a bug in a commonly used email server “to infiltrate sensitive data from American organizations.”
In the same 14-year span, the United Kingdom suffered 47 attacks: India, 23 attacks; Germany, 21 attacks; and South Korea, 18 attacks.
The NSA advisory warned of Russian military attackers exploiting vulnerable email servers, identifying the attackers as Sandworm, an intelligence group also known as GRU Unit 74455.
“The Russian actors … have used this exploit to add privileged users, disable network security settings, execute additional scripts for further network exploitation; pretty much any attacker’s dream access – as long as that network is using an unpatched version of Exim MTA,” the advisory said.
The agency advised users to immediately update the software and warned that any outdated versions would likely remain vulnerable to attack.
Sandworm is known to have operated for at least a decade and has been linked to large-scale cyberattacks on government, energy and telecommunications sectors in Ukraine and Poland, as well as on NATO and the European Union, according to CBS.
The group was determined to be behind the devastating 2017 NotPetya attacks, which caused billions of dollars of damage across Europe, the United States, and Asia.
In a separate offensive emanating from Russia this year, a cyberattack targeted millions of employees of prominent U.S. companies working at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an earlier story in The Crime Report.
That cyber sabotage was believed to be a reprisal for the indictment last December of the leaders of a Russian ransomware group known as Evil Corp.
Nancy Bilyeau is deputy editor of The Crime Report