2023 was the worst year ever for online cyber attacks, report claims

Cybersecurity, Internet Of Things
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UK firms experienced 720,252 online attacks each last year – the equivalent of one every 44 seconds. That’s according to Beaming, an internet service provider for businesses. 

Beaming has analysed cyberattacks targeting thousands of UK-based businesses since the beginning of 2016 to understand their nature and origin better. Beaming’s latest analysis, published today, reveals that:

  • UK businesses experienced 720,252 malicious attempts each, on average, to breach their firewalls in 2023, the equivalent of a new cyber attack every 44 seconds. This was eight per cent more than in 2022 when businesses encountered 687,489 internet-borne cyber attacks each.
  • October to December 2023, when UK businesses encountered 194,453 online attacks each, on average, was the worst quarter ever for attacks on UK businesses. Online attacks peaked at 67,518 (2,178 per day) in October, which was the worst month ever for online cyber attack activity, surpassing the previous record of 63,007 (2,032 per day) recorded in March 2021.
  • Beaming identified more than 1.1 million IP addresses used to launch online attacks in 2023 and traced a quarter (24 per cent) to locations in China. Beaming also identified significant cyber attack activity that appeared to originate in India, USA, Brazil and Russia. The volume of attacks traced to locations in India increased by two-thirds (66 per cent) in 2023.
  • Remotely controlled devices connected to the Internet of Things continued to attract the highest volume of targeted attacks in 2023. Eleven per cent of malicious web activity spotted by Beaming in 2023 appeared to target these devices, which include network device administration tools that are often unsecured by default. Businesses’ web applications, databases and filesharing services also attracted more than 20 daily attacks in 2023.

Graphics: Cyberattacks on UK businesses / Attacking IP addresses by origin

Beaming believes that the availability of new Generative AI tools has made it easier for a broader range of criminals to launch online cyber attacks in 2023, a factor that has contributed to the rise in attack levels.

Based on a regression analysis of attacks experienced in 2022 and 2023, Beaming forecasts that the volume of online attacks will continue to increase in 2024 and that each UK business with an internet connection will experience more than 782,000 attempts to breach their systems this year.

Says Sonia Blizzard, Managing Director of Beaming:

 “While cyberattacks can take many forms, the internet continues to be both the Wild West of malware and the frontline in the fight against cybercrime. How businesses connect to the online world is their single biggest point of potential vulnerability.” 

“There is a lot that internet service providers like Beaming do to identify and minimise the amount of malicious online traffic reaching customers, but it is also essential that internet users take every precaution they can to ensure their firewalls and other online defences are up to date and as strong as they possibly can be.”

Chris Price
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