Internet of Things Malware Attacks Increase by 152% in North America in 2020, Other Continents also Witness a Significant Spike

It goes without saying that Internet of Things (IoT) devices’ prominence has increased over the years. Today, it’s nearly impossible to visit a hospital, office, or even a house that isn’t packed with such devices. While these gadgets have made our lives easy, they have also opened new doors for cybercriminals.

SonicWall’s Global Cyberattack Trends study, shows that in 2020, malware attacks on IoT devices increased by 66% year-over-year (34.3 million to almost 56.9 million).

In October alone, a whopping 10.8 million cases were reported with the education sector being the prime target (71 IoT malware attacks on average per month).

Additionally, Ransomware and cryptojacking (for mining cryptocurrency) witnessed a year-over-year increase of 62% (187.9 million cases to 304.6 million cases) and 28% (64.1 million cases to 81.9 million cases) respectively.

A 20% spike was reported in intrusion attempts (2.99 trillion to 4.8 trillion) last year. For those of you unaware, intrusion attempts involve hackers trying to break into a system. Additionally, encrypted threats i.e. when cybercriminals exploit encryption protocols to cover their attacks, saw a boost of 4% during the same period.

Interestingly, general malware cases dipped to 5.6 billion from 9.9 billion between 2019 and 2020.

Now, let’s shed some light on how different regions were affected by this massive increase of malware attacks. North America witnessed the biggest rise (152%) in such cases last year followed by Europe (48%) and Asia (18%).

As for Africa, Australia, and South America, the year-over-year increase in IoT malware cases these continents experienced in 2020 was only 17%.

With the IoT technology being embedded in almost 95% of electronic devices/systems by 2020 and the normalization of remote work (warranting people to use their company-provided devices via home networks), experts had already predicted a spike in IoT malware attacks.

It’s important to note that nearly 6 in 10 (57%) IoT devices are vulnerable to at least medium-severity attacks. Add to the fact that about 98% of all IoT traffic is unencrypted. Despite these risks, there are certain steps you can take to do your part in keeping your IoT gadgets safe from external threats/attacks. These steps are:
  • Increase the strength of your WiFi network security by changing the name of your WiFi along with the password. Also, ensure that you are using the strongest level of encryption you can get.
  • Protect your network and devices with strong and unique passwords i.e. combinations of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Make sure that you aren't using the same password for two or more devices.
  • If your router allows you to create a secondary WiFi network in addition to the main one, go ahead with it and make sure that your IoT devices and personal gadgets are connected to separate networks.
  • Never miss a chance to update your software to the latest available version since almost every update comes with new and effective security patches.
  • Always disable features (location tracking, Bluetooth, remote access, etc.) that you do not use.
Read next: APKPure and Huawei App Store Both Have Been Affected by Malwares Very Recently
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