Cybersecurity Tops Business Risks in 2022

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Pandemic concerns are still running high, but other concerns—like cybersecurity—are now topping businesses’ lists of things to worry about. In fact, “cyber perils” are the biggest concern for companies globally in 2022, according to the latest Allianz Risk Barometer from AGCS (Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty). This is true for just the second time in the survey’s 11-year history. The barometer’s top three ranked business risks in 2022 are cyber perils, business interruption, and natural disasters, outranking key concerns from recent years like the COVID-19 pandemic, which ranked fourth. A surge in ransomware attacks has made such a high percentage of respondents (57%) perceive cyber peril as the top business risk in 2022, AGCS says.

In February, NCC Group released its annual threat monitor, and the new data suggests ransomware attacks nearly doubled in 2021, rising about 93% compared to 2020. In 2020, the global cybersecurity and risk mitigation firm reported 1,389 ransomware attacks versus 2,690 in 2021. And while the pandemic has fallen to the fourth rated business risk for 2022 according to the Allianz Risk Barometer, it is largely to blame for the snowballing effect industries have seen in the number of ransomware attacks.

NCC Group’s global lead for strategic threat intelligence Matt Hull said in a press release: “Many of the dangers which we first identified at the start of the pandemic have snowballed in 2021, revealing a developing threat landscape with ransomware attacks on the rise.” Deloitte points out some specific reasons the pandemic set off a wave of cyber attacks, including the swift shift to remote work, an increase in BYOD (bring your own device) approaches to supporting virtual productivity, human error, and “hacktivist” activities. Hull urges businesses to remain vigilant in 2022, especially for those businesses operating in heavily targeted sectors like industrial.

The threat monitor report suggests the most targeted sectors were industrial (19.35%), public (19.35%), and consumer cyclicals (16.13%). The industrial sector’s vital role in global and national economies makes it such an attractive target for cyber criminals. Because a breach can result in such a damaging domino effect, NCC Group says the industrial sector will remain a top target for cyber criminals in the future.

Russia-based Conti ransomware was particularly brutal toward the industrial sector, representing 18% of all attacks in the past two years, as reported by NCC Group’s annual threat monitor. According to the CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency)’s latest update on February 28, Conti cyber threat actors remain active. The number of reported Conti ransomware attacks against U.S. and international organizations exceeds 1,000, with notable attack vectors including Trickbot and Cobalt Strike.

This is just one way Russia is affecting the current cybersecurity scene. With Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, talk has turned to ways Russia may retaliate against the West using cyberattacks. Unofficial reports suggest this increased risk has created an uptick in cybersecurity spending to brace for potential impact. As the U.S. and others place economic sanctions meant to squeeze Russia financially, some worry that the Putin-led nation will lash out against the U.S. infrastructure using targeted cyberattacks, essentially fueling a cyber war against those who stand with Ukraine.

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