More than 152 million attempted cyberattacks affected Puerto Rico in 2020

By The Star Staff

More than 152 million attempted cyberattacks were recorded in Puerto Rico in 2020, out of a total of 41,000 million reported in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a report from Fortinet, a firm that targets and provides automated cybersecurity solutions.

From October to December alone, there were 61.5 million attempted attacks in Puerto Rico. During this period, threats known as “phishing” emails spread throughout Latin America with attached HTML files, in an attempt to redirect the browser to malicious websites.

“Malware” on the web has become the most common vehicle for distributing infected files, often being the gateway for data theft or hijacking, known as “ransomware.”

The information is part of Fortinet’s report for the fourth quarter of 2020 and its annual summary on cyberattack attempts, compiled by its threat intelligence laboratory FortiGuard Labs, which collects and analyzes cybersecurity incidents daily around the world.

Although the volume of cyber-attack attempts remains extremely high, what is most alarming is the degree of sophistication and efficiency that cybercriminals have achieved thanks to advanced technologies and artificial intelligence (AI), which allow them to develop targeted attacks with greater chances of success. This means that in fewer attempts, cybercriminals can do more damage.

“2020 demonstrated the ability of criminals to invest time and resources in more lucrative attacks, such as ‘ransomware,’” said Daniel Vega, country manager for Fortinet in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “In addition, they are adapting to the new era of remote work with more sophisticated actions to deceive victims and access corporate networks.”

“We see a trend toward peripheral attacks, and not just the core network,” he noted. “The use of Iot devices and mission-critical industrial environments are some examples of access points for criminals.”

Vega warned that in 2021, “we must be attentive to the emergence of new smart edges,” or networks that adapt and expand according to the needs of the user. These not only create different attack vectors, but allow groups of compromised devices to work together to reach victims at 5G speeds.

“We must be alert to any suspicious mail or activity, and implement and follow all the necessary controls on personal devices to mitigate the risk of intrusion or violation of our companies’ security policies, including the periodic installation of available updates from manufacturers,” Vega said.

“From a business point of view, it is necessary to add the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to security platforms that operate in an integrated and automated way on the main network, in multi-cloud environments, in branches and remote workers’ homes,” he added.

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