New Defenses for Cybersecurity

October 05, 2021 by Jeremy Ward, Vice President, Information Security Officer, Tyler Technologies

New Defenses for Cybersecurity

By all measures, it’s not been a good year regarding cybersecurity across industries doing business in the digital world. According to the latest SonicWall Cyber Threat Report, 2021 will go down as the worst year in ransomware history so far. In the first half of 2021 alone, there were 304.7 million attempted ransomware attacks. That’s a 151% increase compared to the corresponding period last year. Other 2021 stats paint a similarly grim picture:

  • 23% increase in cryptojacking
  • 26% increase in encrypted threats
  • 59% increase in IoT attacks

Take a closer look at the data and you’ll also see the U.S. has faced the brunt of the attacks, accounting for 73% of global ransomware attempts. While no industry has been spared, the public sector has been hit the hardest. In June 2021, attacks on government organizations occurred 10 times more often than the average rate.

Cyberattacks Have Become Lucrative Business

In March 2021, CNA Financial Corp., one of the nation’s largest insurance companies, paid $40 million to regain control of its network. That sum increased the stakes and raised eyebrows as news of the staggering ransom amount was featured prominently in headlines. Ransoms of this size allow cybercriminals to expand their operations at a meteoric rate, hiring call centers, HR teams, and other corporate functions just like a legitimate business.

A Powerful Counterpunch

Attacks on the nation’s largest gas pipeline (Colonial) and the world’s largest meat processor (JBS) made front-page news, bringing more attention to the threat. While the public’s awareness of cyberattacks has increased, so have the government’s actions toward the attackers. Take the Colonial Pipeline case, for example. While the attack was still underway, the U.S. declared a state of emergency, a first by a government entity. Just days later, the FBI attributed the Colonial attack to Darkside, a ransomware group often linked to Russia. This swift and public admonishment of the attackers increased the spotlight on Darkside and eventually forced the cybercriminals to shut down a portion of the program due to “pressure from the U.S.”

A More Collaborative Approach

In May 2021, President Biden signed the Executive Order on Improving National Security in an effort “to protect our critical infrastructure and our way of life.” Three months later, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) launched its Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC). Together, these two actions represent a new approach to cybersecurity. They aim to break down barriers between the public and private sector, encouraging us to share insights and coordinate our defenses. I’m hopeful this new collaboration lives up to its name and makes us all more aligned, synergistic, and cooperative.

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