The Most Common Virtual Attacks


Since the beginning of the Pandemic, virtual attacks have skyrocketed. There are several reasons, but the digitalization driven by the Pandemic, led to changes in working patterns (adoption of teleworking and hybrid work), which culminated in a quick adaptation without prior preparation. It was then notorious the lack of preparation of companies in the field of cybersecurity, revealing vulnerabilities of devices, which are no longer protected by the company.

According to ITChannel, in 2021, Portuguese organizations were attacked, on average, 881 times a week. This represents an increase of 81% compared to 2020.

In view of this, it is crucial that each organization, and its employees, have the ability to identify whether they are being victims of cyberattacks and what type of cyberattack they are.


Malware is one of the most well-known cyber attacks. It is a program, or code, harmful to technological systems, designed to infiltrate them without your knowledge. The main purpose of this software is to invade, damage or disable computers, systems, networks, devices, taking control of their operations, interfering with their normal functioning.
Our partner Kaspersky has seen a considerable increase in this malicious software, which has been used to steal passwords through the use of a Malware called Trojan-PSW.


Ransomware is the most popular form of Malware, which blocks or denies access to the device or encrypts files, then demands payment for the return of stolen documents or data.
Rui Duro, country manager of our partner CheckPoint, reveals that, in Portugal, an organization is being attacked, on average, 947 times per week, with Ransomware being the most prominent. This is considered the most serious and the most growing cyberattack.


Phishing, one of the most common cyber attacks, is the act of sending an email to a recipient, falsely claiming to be a credible source, such as a company, in an attempt to obtain personal and important information, which will later be used for purposes undesirable.
According to the Cybercrime Office, Phishing attacks have increased exponentially in the year 2021, and it was during periods of confinement that reports reached their peak. Several arguments were used with the purpose of extorting money or confidential data, on behalf of reputable companies such as EDP or the Tax Authority.


A variant of Phishing via SMS, where the victim receives a text message asking them to click on a link or download an application. However, by taking one of these steps, personal information is diverted.
This type of cyberattack has been a favorite way for hackers to distribute Malware, and substantial investment has been made in hacking social media accounts in order to gain access to mobile devices.

In addition to these, the National Cybersecurity Center (CNCS) reveals which were the most common cases of Social Engineering, categorized by CERT.PT in the first half of 2021sexual extortion (49%), CEO fraud (12%), the attempted fraud through a fictitious case of inheritance (11%) and the fraud through the MB Way platform (7%), among others”. 

The Cybersecurity Observatory clarifies these terms, explaining that sextortion consists of sextortion based on the threat of exposing alleged intimate images. In turn, CEO Fraud occurs when someone impersonates the head of an organization, requesting a bank transfer from an employee. On the other hand, fraud through a fictitious case of inheritance, seeks gains with the promise of money. Finally, the MB Way uses cases concerning alleged buyers who lead online sellers to improperly transfer money.

In CheckPoint’s Cyber Security Report 2022, the main trends for the current year were listed, as follows:

  • Supply Chain Attacks: Like the SolarWinds attack and the Log4j vulnerability exposed in December.
  • Cyberattacks Interfering with Daily Life: 2021 was marked by the exponential increase in cyberattacks, as has been regularly stated by ActiveSys. These cyber threats have sometimes impacted the daily lives of many individuals, compromising their work.
  • Cloud Services Under Attack: Vulnerabilities in Cloud providers have become much more alarming in 2021. The exposed weaknesses allowed attackers, for varying periods of time, to gain administrator privileges, access massive amounts of personal data, and traverse different environments.
  • Developments on the Mobile Attack Surface: Over the year, malicious actors have increasingly used Smishing (SMS Phishing) for Malware distribution, as mentioned above. Furthermore, the continued digitization of the banking sector has led to the introduction of various applications designed to limit personal interactions, which in turn has led to the distribution of new threats.
  • Fractures in the Ransomware Ecosystem: In 2021, we witnessed a change in the position of several organizations and entities, moving from the adoption of preventive measures, to reactive measures, with an offensive approach against this type of hackers.
  • Emotet Returns: One of the most dangerous and famous botnets in history is back.

In view of this, decree-law 65/2021 of 30 July is also reinforced, which appears to regulate some aspects of the Legal Regime for Cyberspace Security, under the supervision of the CNCS. This law, which is a relevant step towards cybersecurity in Portugal, aims to guarantee a high level of security for networks and information systems throughout the European Union. It should also be noted that this jurisdiction was based on the obligations to apply security requirements for networks and information systems, as well as rules for the notification of accidents to the entities within its scope of application.

The details regarding the decree have not yet all been settled. However, it is known that its application concerns the Public Administration, critical infrastructure operators, essential service operators and digital service providers.

With all this information, it is already possible to reduce the risks of a virtual attack. However, ActiveSys has solutions and services that guarantee your protection against cyberattacks.

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


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