Cybercriminals Are Using MSPs’ Own Internal Tools Against Them According to Acronis Cyberthreats Report 2022

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Acronis, the global leader in cyber protection, has released its annual Acronis Cyberthreats Report 2022, an in-depth review of cybersecurity trends and threats worldwide.

The report warns that managed service providers (MSPs) are particularly at risk — having more of their own management tools, such as PSA or RMM, used against them by cybercriminals, and thus are becoming increasingly vulnerable to supply chain attacks.

Supply-chain attacks on MSPs are particularly devastating, since attackers gain access to both their business and clients — as seen in the SolarWinds breach last year and the Kaseya VSA attack earlier in 2021, one successful attack means crippling hundreds or thousands of SMBs.

The report also shows that during the second half of 2021, only 20% of companies reported not having been attacked — as opposed to 32% last year — indicating that attacks are increasing in frequency across the board.

“The cybercrime industry is a well-oiled machine, using cloud and machine intelligence to scale and automate their operations. While the threat landscape continues to grow, we see that the main attack vectors stay the same — and they still work,” says Candid Wuest, Acronis VP of Cyber Protection Research.

“While the attack surface is growing and 2022 will surely bring us surprises, cyber protection automation remains the only path to greater security, reduced risks, lower costs, and improved efficiency.”

Acronis Cyberthreats Report 2022

Key trends of 2021 — and predictions for 2022

Beyond the growing efficiency of cybercriminals and the impact on MSPs and small businesses, the Acronis Cyberthreats Report 2022 shows:

  • Phishing remains the main attack vector. 94% of malware gets delivered by email — using social engineering techniques to trick users into opening malicious attachments or links, phishing has been topping the charts even before the pandemic. It still continues to grow rapidly: just this year, Acronis reported blocking 23% more phishing emails and 40% more malware emails in Q3, as compared with Q2 of the same year.
  • Phishing actors develop new tricks, move to messengers. Now targeting OAuth and multifactor authentication tools (MFA), these new tricks allow criminals to take over accounts. To bypass common anti-phishing tools, they will use text messages, Slack, Teams chats and other tools for attacks such as business email compromise (BEC). One recent example of such an attack was the infamous hijacking of the FBI’s own email service, which was compromised and started sending spam emails in November, 2021.
  • Ransomware still the #1 threat — to big companies and SMBs alike. High-value targets include the public sector, healthcare, manufacturing, and other critical organizations. But despite some recent arrests, ransomware continues to be one of the most profitable cyberattacks these days. Cybercrime Magazine predicts ransomware damages will exceed $20 billion before the end of 2021.
  • Cryptocurrency among the attackers’ favourite playing cards. Infostealers and malware that swaps digital wallet addresses are the reality today. We can expect more such attacks waged directly against smart contracts in 2022 — attacking the programs at the heart of cryptocurrencies. Attacks against Web 3.0 apps will also occur more frequently, and new and increasingly sophisticated attacks, such as flash loan attacks, will allow attackers to drain millions of dollars from cryptocurrency pools.
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Acronis Cyberthreats Report 2022

The Acronis Cyberthreats Report 2022 is based on examining attack and threat data collected by the company’s global network of Acronis CPOCs, which monitor and research cyberthreats 24/7.

Malware data was collected by more than 650,000 unique endpoints around the world running Acronis Cyber Protect — either as a client of an MSP using the solution or a business running the solution. The end-of-year update covers attacks targeting endpoints detected between July and November, 2021.

The full report provides in-depth insights into the top cybersecurity and threat trends the CPOCs observed during the second half of 2021; a review of malware families and related statistics; a deep dive into ransomware’s most dangerous groups; the vulnerabilities that contribute to successful attacks; and Acronis’ security recommendations for 2022 and beyond.

Check out the findings for the first half of 2021 in our Acronis Cyberthreats Report: Mid-year 2021.

You can download a copy of the full Acronis Cyberthreats Report 2022 here.

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