Beginning with the worldwide lockdowns, businesses have tried to restructure their operations to function partially or fully online while the general population has relied upon the internet for shopping, work and almost everything else. These cyber security statistics, facts and trends show how cybercriminals continue to adapt to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The rate of cybercrime increased by 600% during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The financial sector suffered the largest financial losses in 2020.15
- The total cost of all cybercrime damages in 2021 is expected to amount to about $6 trillion worldwide.3
While companies struggled to adapt to the chaos and confusion, their guard was let down long enough for cyber criminals to establish a foothold in protected corporate environments. Ever since then, cyber criminals have taken advantage of every opportunity to commit intellectual property theft, launch phishing attacks, ransomware attacks and a host of other cyber attacks.
26 Cyber Security Statistics, Facts & Trends
Cybercrime comes in many different shapes and sizes, and so do its consequences. What follows is a collection of some noteworthy statistics on the biggest cyber security trends of the past year. We’ve organized them according to the type of cybercriminal activity, the most commonly targeted industries and the effect they’ve had on their targets.
Statistics on Social Engineering Cyber Attacks
Social engineering is the act of psychologically manipulating a computer user into disclosing confidential information or granting access to restricted systems. No matter how powerful a company’s security protections may be, no amount of technology will prevent a careless computer user from opening a malicious link.
1. How Many Cyber Attacks in 2021 Were Phishing Attacks?
The 2020 State of Phish Annual Report states that 65% of organizations in the United States fell victim to a phishing attack that year.1
Phishing is a popular social engineering method that involves creating a fraudulent email or website designed to lure the recipient into clicking on a malicious link or handing over sensitive personal or company data, such as credentials or financial info.
2. How Many Data Breaches Resulted from Phishing Attacks?
Phishing attacks account for 90% of data breaches, according to Cisco’s 2021 Cyber Security Threat Trends report.23 These attacks target the weakest link in security: users.
The preponderance of social engineering methods suggests that cybercriminals take advantage of the emotions or negligence of human beings more often than they target system vulnerabilities.1
Type of Attacks that Resulted in Data Breaches
3. Can User Training Prevent Phishing?
Although 95% of organizations provide phishing awareness training, 30% trained just a portion of their user base, according to the 2020 State of Phish Annual Report.
Additionally, 78% of organizations say their security awareness training activities resulted in measurably lower phishing susceptibility, but 31% of employees failed a phishing test.1
4. How Many Data Breaches Are Caused by Insider Threats?
Verizon reports that 36% of all data breaches experienced by companies of 1,000 employees or more were caused by malicious employees. For businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees, 44% of all data breaches were caused by malicious employees.2
Statistics About the Cost of Cybercrime
The dangers of cyber attacks don’t stop at hackers simply stealing your personal or company information — they’re costly too. In fact, the expenses involved in recovering from a cyber attack can amount to thousands and even millions of dollars and put some organizations out of business. This is what happened to a timber supplier in 2018 due to a ransomware attack.
5. What Is the Global Cost of Cybercrime in 2021?
Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that cybercrimewill result in a total loss of $6 trillion worldwide by the end of 2021, growing by 15% per year until it reaches $10.5 trillion by 2025.4
In other words, the projected total cost of cybercrime in 2021 exceeds the costs from a year’s worth of natural disasters, and represents a greater sum than the total global trade of all major illegal drugs.4
6. How Many Businesses Have Difficulty Investing in Cyber Security?
A 2020 Accenture survey said that 69% of respondents found the increasing costs of keeping up with cybercrime unsustainable.5 Accenture analyzed 17 different components of security and found that 60% of respondents reported cost increases up to 25% on all 17 components over the last two years.
The three areas showing the largest increases in cost were network security, threat detection and security monitoring.5 Despite technological advancements, cybercriminals are too aggressive and costly to keep up with.
Percentage of Businesses: Price of Security Components Increased up to 25%
7. What Is a BEC Attack?
The cost of business email compromise (BEC) attacks are on the rise as well. BEC attacks are phishing attacks that involve an attacker manipulating a high-ranking official into sending a wire transfer of company funds to an attacker-controlled bank account. The FBI regards BEC phishing attacks as “one of the most financially damaging online crimes.”6
Attackers do this by earning the recipient’s trust first. Cybercrimnals establish their foothold by sending a phishing email to an upper-level executive at a large company, usually someone who is authorized to issue and request large transfers of money. If successful, they will use these trusted email addresses to request wire transfers of thousands or even millions of dollars.
8. How Much Do BEC Attacks Cost in 2021?
The average sum of a wire transfer from a BEC attack increased throughout 2020, according to a nonprofit organization called the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG). This group reported an average BEC wire transfer of $85,000 in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to an average wire transfer of $48,000 in the third quarter of 2020.7
This rise coincided with the worldwide COVID-19 lockdowns and suggests a successful attempt to take advantage of business leaders working from home on their personal devices.
Average BEC Wire Transfer per Quarter in 2020
Statistics About FBI Complaints
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) had their busiest year fighting cybercrime in 2020 as a record number of Americans reported falling victim to some form of cyber attack. Since early 2020, the IC3 detected a rise in phishing, spoofing, extortion, BEC attacks and online scams targeting those who have been dispossessed by the pandemic.
It took seven years for the IC3 to record their first million complaints since its founding in 2000. They reached 5 million complaints in March 2020, and it only took 14 more months to reach 6 million complaints in May 2021. At the rate cybercrime is moving now, 2021 could turn out to be a record year.24
9. How Many Cybercrime Complaints Did the FBI Receive in 2020?
In 2020, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) experienced a 69% increase in the volume of cybercrime complaints received since 2019. This number of complaints from American citizens reached a total of 791,790.8
The IC3 goes on to report a total of 19,369 complaints of BEC attacks in 2020, which it describes as the costliest kind of cyber attack for that year. BEC attack losses in 2020 amounted to a total of $1.8 billion out of a reported total of $4.1 billion in cybercrime losses.8
IC3 received 241,342 complaints of phishing attacks with associated losses of over $54 million and 2,474 reported ransomware incidents.8
Ransomware Cyber Security Statistics
Ransomware is a type of malware designed to encrypt all of a device’s files so that the user can no longer access them, or even use the machine at all. Ransomware is an especially devastating form of cyber attack because it brings businesses to a halt.
Ransomware operators demand payment in exchange for returning the files to the owner, which is usually requested in the form of cryptocurrency — payments that are anonymous and untraceable, in other words.
Some ransomware operators will restore the encrypted data upon payment, but more often than not, they just run away with the money without decrypting the targeted systems.
10. How Often Do Ransomware Attacks Occur?
There has been a precipitous rise in ransomware attacks since January 1, 2016, precipitated by the use of Ransomware as a Service (RaaS). Over 4,000 ransomware attacks per day have been documented since then, which is a 300% increase from the average 1,000 attacks per day recorded in 2015.9
11. How Many SMBs Have Been Targeted With Ransomware?
Ransomware is the number one threat to small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). SMBs have been targeted frequently in ransomware attacks within the last two years, according to 85% of managed service providers (MSPs).
The highest concentrations of ransomware attacks on SMBs within the last two years were in Australia and New Zealand, according to 91% of MSPs.10
In just the first half of 2019, 56% of MSPs reported ransomware attacks against their clients, and 15% reported more than one ransomware attack in a single day.10
12. How Many Healthcare Organizations Suffered a Ransomware Attack?
From January 1, 2021 through May 25, 2021, the Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3) documented a total of 82 ransomware attacks around the world, with 48 of these attacks taking place within the United States healthcare sector.11
13. How Much Did the Average Ransomware Payment Cost?
In 2021, the average demand made by ransomware attackers was $131,000, and the average cost to recover from a ransomware attack was $1.27 million. This was the lowest sector for ransomware-related costs analyzed by the HC3.
The largest average sum for reversing the damages was in the education sector at $2.73 million.11
Statistics About the Most Targeted Industries
While any business with a computer system is at risk of falling victim to a cyber attack, some industries are more lucrative targets than others. In 2021, the most targeted industries are those involved in finance and insurance, manufacturing, business services and healthcare.12
Part 1: Healthcare Cyber Security Statistics
Hospitals and other organizations in the healthcare industry were already suffering from a widespread lack of staff and budget to deal with cyber security risks, and the abrupt changes caused by the pandemic only worsened existing IT weaknesses.
14. How Did Remote Work Affect the Healthcare Industry?
A staggering 90% of healthcare staff in 2020 did not receive any updated training on cyber security best practices after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to work from home.13
15. How Much Do Lost or Stolen Medical Records Cost?
The cost for a compromised healthcare provider to recover a single lost or stolen record can reach up to $408. The advertising costs associated with alleviating reputational damages can go up to $1.75 million.14
Medical records are one of the most profitable items cybercriminals can steal, due to the large amount of personal information contained therein, and the large ransoms they can extort from struggling hospitals desperate to get their patients’ confidential data back.
Part 2: Manufacturing
The dramatic fluctuations in the global supply chain since 2020 placed a great deal of strain on manufacturing industries. The demand for many goods and services dropped while others, like personal protective equipment, soared to unmanageable heights. Cybercriminals took note of the weaknesses that emerged as a result.
16. How Much Have Attacks Against Manufacturing Companies Increased in 2021?
Manufacturing was the second most-targeted industry in 2020. It was already a widely targeted industry for cyber espionage campaigns and intellectual property theft, but the percentage of all attacks detected by NTT has increased from 7% in 2019 to 22% in 2020, and will rise higher still throughout 2021 if the trend continues.15
17. What Malware Do Cybercriminals Use to Attack Manufacturing Companies?
The Morto worm comprised 34% of all malware detections in manufacturing during 2020, making it the most detected malware in that industry. The Morto worm spreads through remote desktop services on Windows servers and uses brute-force methods to gain access to the servers.15
Following the Morto worm, the next most-detected malware in manufacturing was a password stealer called Mimikatz, accounting for 15% of detections. This malware is commonly used in data exfiltration campaigns to steal Windows account credentials in cleartext, making it the perfect malware for stealing profitable corporate secrets.15
Most Common Types of Malware Used in Manufacturing Attacks, by Percentage
18. What Was the Most Targeted Technology in Manufacturing?
Nearly half of all attacks against the manufacturing industry in 2020 were attributed to attacks targeting ThinkPHP and PHPUnit technology, making it the highest volume of PHP attacks in any industry. Of those, 40% targeted ThinkPHP, while PHPUnit made up the remaining 8%.15
Almost 25% of all hostile activity in manufacturing was attributed to reconnaissance activity, with 56% attributed to port scanning by attackers scanning for PHP vulnerabilities. This includes the Morto worm scanning for open RDP ports.15
19. How Many Industrial Control Systems Were Attacked in 2021?
In the first half of 2021, 33.8% of industrial control systems (ICS) were attacked, indicating a 0.4% increase from the second half of 2020. March (16.2%) showed the highest percentage of malicious software being blocked by ICS systems, while the lowest blockage rate was recorded to be in February (14%).16
Part 3: Finance
Finance was the most attacked industry in 2020, making up 23% of all cyber attacks. Application-specific attacks comprised 42%, while 31% were web application attacks and 12% were followed by reconnaissance. Application-specific and web application attacks together made up 73% of all attacks on finance.15
The rise in application-specific attacks is explained by each organization’s increased use of web applications, cloud technologies, mobile applications and client portals as organizations rapidly moved their operations online during the COVID-19 pandemic.15
20. How Many Web Attacks Are Financial Institutions Targeted With?
More than 736 million web attacks against financial institutions were recorded in 2020, out of a total 6.3 billion web attacks recorded that year. The number one type of web attack was local file inclusion at 52%, followed by 33% SQL injection attacks. Cross-site scripting attacks made up 9%.17
Type of Attack Against Financial Institutions
21. How Many Files Do Financial Employees Have Access To?
As of 2021, Varonis reports that financial services employees have access to about 11 million company files on average, including files with sensitive personal and financial information. That number is nearly doubled for employees of large businesses, who have access to about 20 million files each.18
Financial institutions already face extraordinary risks if even a single employee’s security becomes compromised, but the risk of social engineering, malware, ransomware and noncompliance have multiplied since the sudden and widespread adoption of remote work.
22. How Long Does It Take Financial Institutions to Detect Data Breaches?
In 2020, financial institutions took an average of 233 days (approximately eight months) to detect and address data breaches affecting their systems. While crimes committed in person (such as robbing a store) are usually noticed immediately, skilled cybercriminals have the advantage of remaining undetected for months while they take their time to steal their target’s valuable information.18
Part 4: Education
Universities are popular targets for cybercriminals because of the great wealth of personally identifiable information and research data stored in their databases. This trend was already in progress prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but since then cybercriminals have doubled down on their extortion efforts to get their hands on COVID-19 vaccine research data.
23. How Much Do Ransomware Attacks Cost Universities?
The average ransomware attack in higher educationcost organizations $447,000 in 2020.19
In July 2019, ransomware operators compromised Monroe College’s computer network and demanded 170 Bitcoin (about $2 million) in exchange for the encrypted data. It is not known which strain of ransomware infected the school’s systems or if the school paid the ransom — but this incident is just a drop in the bucket. Payment demands in the millions of dollars are a common sight for cybercriminals.19
Half of all reported data breaches in 2019 were breaches of university systems. Most analyzed incidents involved the login credentials or personally identifiable information associated with learning tools such as Zoom, Chegg, ProctorU and others.19
24. How Many Universities Have Been Attacked by Nation-State Threat Actors?
Universities are common targets of data theft from nation-state attackers. Over 200 universities have been impacted by a nation-state campaign since 2019. During this time, five nation-state campaigns were identified, but it’s likely there are many more campaigns that haven’t been discovered yet.19
25. What Kind of Information Do Nation-State Attackers Usually Target?
If universities weren’t profitable enough targets for cybercriminals, the COVID-19 pandemic heightened their value to nation-state threat actors. Recent evidence suggests that some nation-state cybercriminals are targeting universities for vaccine research.19
Intelligence organizations from the U.S., U.K. and Canada issued a group warning that the Russian advanced persistent threat actor APT29 (aka Cozy Bear, the Dukes, et al.) were going after universities for their vaccine research data.20
Windows 7 Cyber Security Statistics
The sudden shift to remote working caused employees of affected companies to use their personal devices at home to do their work. This created an opportunity for cybercriminals to target protected corporate information by exploiting employees’ personal devices, which are more likely to have weaker defenses than company-owned computers.
The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic roughly coincided with January 2020, the date Microsoft dropped support for Windows 7. The lockdowns took effect not long afterward, causing some unprepared employees to use the unsecure operating system to perform their work.
26. How Many Windows 7 Machines Are Still in Use?
ZDNet estimates that 100 million Windows users are running Windows 7 systems as of December 202021, out of an estimated 1.2 billion total Windows users22. Even a year after Microsoft stopped issuing security updates for Windows 7, millions of Windows 7 systems remain in use.
While some of them may be businesses paying for Microsoft’s extended security updates (ESU), most of those devices probably remain unsupported and exposed to modern cyber threats.
Final Thoughts: Cyber Security Statistics
Organizations across all industries are hit by some form of cyber attack on a daily basis. It’s not just large brands that are at risk of falling victim to social engineering attacks, ransomware or other cyber threats.
Even the smallest businesses aren’t small enough to stay off the radar of cybercriminals. If your business uses even a single computer or smartphone to conduct its operations, then it is at risk of falling victim to a cybercriminal searching for a big pay day. Be sure to check our cyber insurance guide to learn how to secure your business against online threats.
If these type of facts and statistics interests you, be sure to check our online gaming statistics and online shopping statistics compilations.
What did you think about these cyber security statistics? Were any of them particularly useful, surprising, shocking or just interesting? Were there any major trends we missed? Let us know what you think in the comments below. While you’re at it, we suggest reading our other statistics pieces on data privacy, VPNs and ransomware. As always, thanks for reading.
In the United States, IC3 reported a total of 791,790 complaints in 2020.
- 2020 State of the Phish Report
- Verizon – 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)
- Cybersecurity Magazine – Global Cybercrime Damages Predicted to Reach $6 Trillion Annually by 2021
- Cybercrime Magazine – Cybercrime to Cost the World $10.5 Trillion Annually by 2025
- Accenture Security – State of Cybersecurity Report 2020
- FBI – Business Email Compromise
- APWG – Phishing Activity Trends Report 1st Quarter 2021
- Internet Crime Complaint Center – Internet Crime Report 2020
- Justice.gov – How to Protect Your Networks From Ransomware: Technical Guidance Document
- Datto – Datto’s Global State of the Channel Ransomware Report
- Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Sector – Ransomware Trends 2021
- IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2021
- Black Book 2020 State of the Healthcare Industry Cybersecurity Industry Report
- Kaspersky – Cyber Pulse: The State of Cybersecurity in Healthcare – Part Two
- NTT – 2021 Global Threat Intelligence Report
- Kaspersky – Threat landscape for industrial automation systems. Statistics for H1 2021
- Akamai – State of the Internet Volume 2, Issue 2: Phishing for FinanceAkamai – State of the Internet Volume 2, Issue 2: Phishing for Finance
- Varonis – 2021 Data Risk Report: Financial Services
- BlueVoyant – Cybersecurity in Higher Education
- National Cyber Security Centre – Advisory: APT29 targets COVID-19 vaccine development
- ZDNet – Windows 7: A year after the end-of-support deadline, millions choose not to upgrade
- ZDNet – It’s 2020: How many PCs are still running Windows 7?
- Cisco’s 2021 Cyber Security Threat Trends report
- IC3 Logs 6 Million Complaints