Proofpoint presents the latest “The Human Factor” report

Proofpoint presents the latest "The Human Factor" report

The study examines the three main aspects that can be used to quantify the cyber risk for IT users: vulnerability, targeted attack types and access privileges. […]

Proofpoint, Inc., one of the leading next-generation cybersecurity and compliance companies, today published its “The Human Factor 2022” report. “The Human Factor 2022” report deals in detail with the risks for users and is based on data and findings from a year of cybersecurity research. This is information about detected, mitigated and remediated cyber threats, which in their entirety form one of the largest data sets on cybersecurity.

“Even after a turbulent year with a slow return to normalcy, cybercriminals continue to target people and exploit their weaknesses,” commented Ryan Kalember, EVP of Cybersecurity Strategy at Proofpoint. “Last year, the attackers showed how ruthless they really are. This makes protecting employees from cyber threats a constant challenge for companies and has opened some people’s eyes to the dangers in cyberspace.“

The report is based on several trillion data points, which makes it one of the largest data sets in the field of cybersecurity. Every day, Proofpoint analyzes more than 2.6 billion email messages, 49 billion URLs, 1.9 billion file attachments, 28.2 million cloud accounts, 1.7 billion messages on mobile devices and much more. This report analyzes the data collected in 2021 and examines the nature of today’s cyber threats. It offers security managers practically relevant insights into how they can protect employees from attackers.

The most important findings of the “The Human Factor 2022” report at a glance:

  • Cybercriminals are focusing on the smartphone as the key to people’s private and professional lives. In the US, smishing attempts (attacks via SMS) have more than doubled during the year. In the UK, cybercriminals use delivery notifications as bait in more than 50 percent of cases. In addition, cybercriminals committed more than 100,000 attacks by phone per day.
  • Users with many privileges are disproportionately affected. On average, managers and executives account for only 10 percent of the total users in companies, but they account for almost 50 percent of all attacks.
  • More than 80 percent of all companies are attacked every month from a compromised account of a supplier. Security awareness training that focuses on threats in the supply chain is therefore crucial for companies.
  • Of all legitimate cloud platforms, Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive are the most abused by cybercriminals. Last year, 35 percent of cloud accounts that were found to have a suspicious login subsequently experienced dubious file activity. This shows that privilege-based risks are growing as companies use the cloud. On average, about 10 percent of companies have detected at least one active malicious application in their environment that was previously authorized.
  • The close connection between malware groups and ransomware operators still exists. Between January 1 and December 31, 2021, more than 20 million messages were sent, the purpose of which was to spread malware in connection with a possible ransomware attack.
  • Cybercriminals are taking advantage of pop culture. In 2021, attackers used well-known personalities such as Justin Bieber and The Weeknd, as well as the Netflix series Squid Game for their baits. In October, cybercriminals sent “Squid Game”-themed emails to victims in the US, promising early access to the next season or even the opportunity to star in future episodes.
  • Attackers continue to exploit worldwide conflicts. Earlier this year, cybercriminals and APT groups associated with government agencies responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As part of these activities, Proofpoint was able to observe the destructive Wiper malware used against Ukrainian organizations and key communication infrastructures. In addition, Proofpoint has identified activities of actors allied with Belarus and China, specifically targeting European governmental organizations responsible for asylum processes and other assistance measures.

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