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Acronis has released the findings of its Mid-Year Cyberthreats Report, ‘From Innovation to Risk: Managing the Implications of AI-driven Cyberattacks’. The comprehensive study, based on data captured from more than one million global endpoints, provides insight into the evolving cyber security landscape and finds that cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks.

The biannual threat report highlights ransomware as the dominant risk to small and medium-sized businesses. And while the number of new ransomware variants continues to decline, ransomware attacks' severity remains significant. Equally concerning is the growing prominence of data stealers, who leverage stolen credentials to gain unauthorised access to sensitive information. 

“The volume of threats in 2023 has surged relative to last year, a sign that criminals are scaling and enhancing how they compromise systems and execute attacks,” said Candid Wüest, Acronis VP of Research.

According to the report's findings, phishing is the primary method criminals leverage to unearth login credentials. In the first half of 2023 alone, the number of email-based phishing attacks has surged 464 percent when compared to 2022. Over the same frame, there has also been a 24 percent increase in attacks per organization. In the first half of 2023, Acronis-monitored endpoints observed a 15 percent increase in the number of files and URLs per scanned email. Cybercriminals have also tapped into the burgeoning large language model (LLM)-based AI market, using platforms to create, automate, scale, and improve new attacks through active learning. 

The cyber attack landscape is evolving

Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks, using AI and existing ransomware code to drill deeper into victims’ systems and extract sensitive information. AI-created malware is adept at avoiding detection in traditional antivirus models and public ransomware cases have exploded relative to last year. Acronis-monitored endpoints are picking up valuable data about how these cybercriminals operate and recognises how some attacks have become more intelligent, sophisticated, and difficult to detect.

Drawing from extensive research and analysis, key findings from the report include:

  • Acronis blocked almost 50 million URLs at the endpoint in Q1 2023, a 15 percent increase over Q4 2022. 
  • There were 809 publicly mentioned ransomware cases in Q1 2023, with a 62 percent spike in March over the monthly average of 270 cases.
  • In Q1 2023, 30.3 percent of all received emails were spam and 1.3 percent contained malware or phishing links.  
  • Each malware sample lives an average of 2.1 days in the wild before it disappears. 73% of samples were only seen once.
  • Public AI models are proving an unwitting accomplice for criminals looking for source code vulnerabilities, creating attacks and developing fraud prevention-thwarting attacks like deep fakes.
  • Phishing remained the most popular form of stealing credentials, making up 73 percent of all attacks. Business email compromises (BECs) were second, at 15 percent.

More details.

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