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6 mayo 2021

In the first quarter of the year, Exprivia's Cybersecurity Observatory recorded 349 crimes, up from 2020. Covid-related IT crimes are down. Data theft tops the damage rankings.

Computer attack trends still on the rise in Italy even in 2021. According to what has emerged from the first report of 2021 on computer threats in Italy processed by Exprivia's Cyber security, in the January-March 2021 period 349 events were recorded , in attacks, incidents and privacy breaches. It is a 47% growth on the previous quarter and seven times higher than that of the first three months of 2020. One year after the break out of the pandemic, which led to massive diffusion of smart-working and to even more frequent use of online services, cybercrime continues to strike, often using techniques that are far from sophisticated.

In the first quarter of 2021, Exprivia's Observatory, engaged in spreading the culture of computer security both in companies as well as among private citizens – detected a strong increase in attacks (+56% compared to the last quarter of 2020). Despite this, the average number of incidents, namely successful attacks, registered a drop of 18% on the previous quarter, and remains constant on average compared to the entire year 2020. Privacy breaches, confirmed by fines issued by the Italian Data Protection Authority, continue to register a significant rise, up 55% on the previous quarter.

According to Exprivia's Observatory, which considers 86 public sources, Covid-19 in the first months of 2021 is no longer the top issue used by hackers to attack their victims: first place goes to issues regarding the sphere of processing of personal data, more and more exposed online thanks to the "digital lifestyle" conducted by so many people for over one year. This is followed by other areas among those most exploited by cyber-criminals: online banking and distance learning.

“The first months of the year confirm an overall increase in cyber crimes - asserts Domenico Raguseo, head of Exprivia Cybersecurity. While hackers are spending much more time planning their attacks, using increasingly sophisticated techniques, victims are revealing a worrying lack of awareness of the risks. The problem must be tackled both in terms of security governance as well as certification standards, especially with regard to defending industrial devices and IoT exposed online”.

On the podium for the first time in terms of sectors most hit by cyber criminals is Software/Hardware, with 98 events, almost four times the number for the last quarter. It is a phenomenon that affects instant messenger apps, operating systems, video conference platforms, social networks and devices used in business as well as privately. These are followed by the Finance -sector, from banks to insurance companies, to cryptocurrency platforms - which, with 81 events reported, doubles those of the same quarter in 2020, and sees the Public Administration slightly down (-6%). In the first months of the year, hackers' interest in the Healthcare sector grew again, a sector threatened by the third wave of the pandemic, with attacks up ten times that of the last three months of 2020. This is added to a critical level of attacks which goes way beyond just financial damage or privacy breach; in fact, we are increasingly dealing with a real risk of paralysis of the systems being targeted (both manufacturing and heathcare).

The greatest damage caused by criminals is data theft, with 70% of cases between January and March, while money theft, up by 40%, is in second position. In third position, personal data breaches, down by about 10% on the last quarter of 2020. Lastly, a major increase has been registered in what us known as website defacement, up by 40% on the October-December 2020 quarter.

The techniques most exploited by cybercriminals count firstly phishing-social engineering with 60% of cases - almost double that of the last quarter of 2020 - which particularly affects distracted users or those with little knowledge of how to spot traps via email or social networks. Then there is malware, which aims to steal sensitive information, mainly by way of spying on users' banking activities. In third position, there are even the techniques that hackers use to exploit (known vulnerabilities).

In the first quarter of the year, the number of devices exposed online went down: from almost 8 million in the previous quarter to approximately 7.25 million in the first three months of 2021. More specifically, IoT devices are down by 8% on the last quarter of 2020, as are devices without authentication protocols (7% less compared to the end of 2020) and industrial ones (-10%). Of the latter, however, the report highlights instead an increase in PLCs (programmable logic controllers), devices used in industrial automation, still poorly protected.

“Despite the overall decrease, the number of devices in Italy connected to the internet is high, and many are without protection or authentication protocols - commented Raguseo. If we think, for example, that many of these could be used to provide essential services, their malfunction could have major consequences, especially in the case of healthcare systems and medical software”.

In addition to the report, the Exprivia website also has a list of courses organised for training in the field of IT security and risk management.

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