The Australian technology sector saw the highest proportion of cyber attacks during 2019, even topping the global percentage, new research has found.
This is according to NTT’s ’s 2020 Global Threat Intelligence Report, which saw the technology industry as the target of 35 per cent of all cyber attacks – much higher than the global attack rate of 25 per cent.
In Australia, the public sector was the second-most targeted industry with 26 per cent of cyber attacks, followed by finance at 13 per cent.
On a global scale, Mark Thomas, global head of threat intelligence at NTT, said the technology sector saw a 70 per cent rise in overall attack volume, while government sector attacks nearly doubled.
Application specific attacks were the most prevalent in Australia, occurring in 40 per cent of cases, followed by web application at 20 per cent. Meanwhile, denial of service (DoS) and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks formed 19 per cent collectively.
The most targeted vulnerability was CVE-2017-3731, found in OpenSSL, which had vulnerable patches for over two years.
Meanwhile, the most common malware was conficker, accounting for 14 per cent of all malware detection in the country, and the most targeted technology were Netis and Netcore routers.
The report also covered the exploitation of the coronavirus pandemic by cyber attackers from January to April.
NTT research claimed that websites hosting exploit kits and malware masquerading as official sources of COVID-19 information were being created at “an incredible rate” with some instances showing over 2,000 new sites per day.
According to Matthew Gyde, president and CEO of NTT’s security division, the pandemic is the latest instance that cyber attackers "will always take advantage of any situation" and organisations have to be prepared.
“We are already seeing an increased number of ransomware attacks on healthcare organisations and we expect this to get worse before it gets better," Gyde said.
"Now more than ever, it’s critical to pay attention to the security that enables your business; making sure you are cyber-resilient and maximising the effectiveness of secure-by-design initiatives.”
The release of the report coincides with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Cyber Security Centre coming together to denounce cyber attackers who are "seeking to exploit the pandemic for their own gain".
Australia's ambassador for cyber affairs, Tobias Feakin, said countries should cooperate and not commit to knowingly allow their respective nations to be used for "internationally wrongful acts".
"The Australian government calls on all countries to cease immediately any cyber activity – or support for such activity – inconsistent with these commitments. We also urge all countries to exercise increased vigilance and take all reasonable measures to ensure malicious cyber activity is not emanating from their territory,” he said.
The discovery of the creation rate of malicious fake COVID-19 information sites is the latest in a series of recent findings.
Previous security updates relating to coronavirus-themed threats include the creation rate of public clouds hiding pandemic-themed attacks, scammers hijacking the Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe brands, text message scams, impersonation scams of local companies and international organisations and fake antivirus software claiming to protect users from the biological virus.