Protection from Cyber Attacks



The Pandemic accelerated the business digitalization process, changed work routines, creating new challenges in network security. This resulted in a lack of preparation and, consequently, in a lack of security, making virtual attacks one of the biggest risk factors for companies.

2020, but especially 2021, was a year marked by massive attacks on websites and organizations. The largest pipeline in the United States, the Colonial Pipeline, suffered a cyberattack, prompting the country to pay criminals millions. A few days later, the Irish health service had to shut down computer systems to prevent hackers from stealing sensitive data. In Portugal, as shared by ActiveSys, Grupo Impresa was the victim of an attack, leaving the group’s sites inaccessible.

Cybersecurity is also a topic discussed at the White House, as national security adviser Jake Sullivan sent a letter to internationally recognized software companies and developers to discuss ways to improve the institution’s security, as The United States, as already mentioned, in 2021 was the target of several cyber attacks that exposed data not only from companies, but also from government agencies.

Data from the Techjury website reveals that, globally, around 30,000 websites are hacked daily, and at least 64% of companies worldwide have already suffered at least one type of virtual attack. The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) also spoke out, stating that in the first nine months of 2021, 281.5 million people were affected by breaches, exposures and data breaches, more than 90% of the 2020 total.

According to ITChannel, in 2021, Portuguese organizations were attacked, on average, 881 times a week. This represents an increase of 81% compared to 2020. Our partner CheckPoint has revealed, in an analysis, the global and national, general and industry statistics, regarding the increase in the number of cyber attacks that target corporate networks, demonstrating the sectors who suffered the most (images below).


The insurer AON, in the 2021 Cyber Security Risk Report, also points to media and telecommunications companies, “big data aggregators”, as common targets, precisely because of the size of data they have.

One of the factors that contributed to this increase is the adoption of different types of work, remote and hybrid work, required by the Pandemic, which created vulnerabilities and perfect gateways for hackers, who are becoming increasingly complex, making it more difficult to guarantee corporate security.

“Hackers continue to innovate.New systems penetration techniques and evasion methods have made it much easier for hackers to carry out their malicious intent”, comments Omer Dembinsky, Data Research Manager, Check Point Software.

Hackers are taking advantage of the existence of new variants of Covid-19, a topic that has been, since the beginning of the Pandemic, the favorite “bait” of computer pirates to carry out attacks. However, the new variants discovered are being used to steal credentials or sensitive data, with the aim of using them in profitable cyber attacks, data taken from the latest report by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA).

“During the pandemic, cybercriminals have been exploiting people’s interest, concern, curiosity and fear, using Covid-19-related phishing baits for financial gain”, the report explains.

Furthermore, cybercriminal activities are also oriented towards exploring curiosity about tests, locating new cases and, equally, towards vaccination. In addition to these focuses, attacks are also targeted at remote work individuals, using personalized threats. In turn, HP highlights the purchase and connection of new devices that are not controlled by the IT technical teams, the so-called Shadow IT.

These cyberattacks are carried out by criminal agents highly specialized in each area of action, that is, there are teams specialized in initial access to organizations, obtaining access to the administration, exfiltrating sensitive data and, also, expert teams in negotiation. for the purpose of extortion. The tactics used are aggressive and of great impact, making the entire recovery process quite complex and financially costly.

With regard to exfiltrated data from organizations, in addition to business data, personal data that is covered by GDPR law is often involved. As a result, some of these ransomware attacks culminate in investigations by the National Data Protection Commission.

A study by HP showed that 74% of IT teams reported increases in the number of employees who opened links or attachments that contained phishing in emails. In turn, 40% of respondents said they had clicked on a malicious email and 49% of these say they have done so more often since remote work began. On the other hand, of the office workers who clicked or almost clicked, 70% did not report it to the IT team, where 24% did not consider it important, 20% thought they were bothering and 12% were afraid of punishment.

“People often don’t know if they’ve clicked on something malicious, so the actual numbers are likely much higher”, comments Ian Pratt, Global Head of Security for Personal Systems, HP Inc.

In view of this scenario, the Portuguese Association of Insurers (APS) states that insurance against computer attacks has a “growing demand”, ensuring that, in Portugal, there will be growth, in line with what has been observed in the rest of the Europe. There are already several insurance companies that, in Portugal, have standardized products in this area, providing coverage, as a general rule, in three areas”, being that of advice, which is based on the partnership with specialists in computer security, as is the case of ActiveSys, the domain of legal support, and the domain of compensation for some types of damages resulting from cyber-attacks.

Of all the assisted threats, online child pornography, online fraud, sites that promote hate distillation, denial of access to services, virus infection, receiving fraudulent messages and emails, and loss of access to accounts are included. In addition to the aforementioned ransomware, the most relevant cyber attacks in 2021 were scams, phishing, smishing, CEO Fraud and the disclosure of private data and photographs.

Also noteworthy are the incidents related to passwords, data from the bulletin of the National Cybersecurity Center, which alerts to the fact that the Portuguese reveal to be less careful with the use of passwords, when compared to the European average, given that, despite the future of passwords is not secured, the password is “one of the most critical security tools for cybersecurity, as it is the last security barrier to access personal and/or sensitive data. However, it is also one of the most fragile security features, as its security level depends a lot on how it is used, being susceptible to human factor dynamics and cybercrime trends”.

The aforementioned insurer AON pointed out that only two out of five organizations would be prepared to face cybersecurity threats. It appears, then, that companies must outline action plans in this sense, carrying out a “documented survey of their risk assets and a well-defined risk analysis, in order to define a technological recovery plan to act in a concerted manner in case of an incident“, advises the manager of Focus2Comply.

The vice president of Cipher adds that “the main challenges will be to protect organizations in their digital transformation strategies, especially in their evolution to the cloud, the increase in teleworking and the obsolescence of some of their environments. In addition, the human factor remains one of the most important challenges to be faced and it is a priority to establish adequate awareness-raising plans. According to statistics, the human factor is the most vulnerable point in issues related to Information Security“.

The Chief Risk Officer of the Ageas Portugal Group, states that not only is the risk of cyberattacks increasing, but also the scope of their targets is being expanded “If, in the past, these attacks were mainly focused on large companies, since attract more interest, we now see that SMEs are not safe either”, he stresses.

These attacks on organizational environments can render companies inoperable, destroy the trust that customers and suppliers have in the company, which may result in incalculable monetary losses, and in reputational damage that may be irreversible, as the data of customers, partners, suppliers and employees are compromised. Ricardo Negrão, responsible for the cyber risk analysis area of the insurance company AON, estimated, in Portugal, in November 2021, that cyberattacks could cost large organizations up to 10 million euros. This calculation, based only on ransomware attacks, the most common attack, demonstrates that Portugal is increasingly seen as an attractive market.

However, Portugal has a significant flaw in this process. The National Cybersecurity Center (CNCS) revealed a “significant divergence” between the intention to report computer crimes and actually reporting them. According to these data, what is at stake is a “high degree of ignorance” about the ways to do it. In this regard, CNCS argues that it is essential for companies to be informed about the ways to make the report and which channels to use for this purpose. One of the services available is Linha Internet Segura, a service to report illegal content online, operated by the Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV).

It is concluded, then, through the exposed data, that companies also need to carry out technological, complete and recurrent check-ups, in the scope of cybersecurity, so that virtual attacks are avoided. The internal technical teams also need help in this regard, so using ActiveSys is the best solution.

Cybercrime is real and the risk of cyberattacks is permanent. Count on ActiveSys to protect yourself.


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