Indian enterprises were flooded with a whopping 14.6 crore malware threats in 2019 - a growth of 48 per cent (year-on-year) compared to 2018, a new report said on Friday.
Manufacturing, BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance), education, healthcare, IT/ITES, and the government were the most at-risk industries in the country, said the report from Seqrite, the enterprise arm of Pune-based IT security firm Quick Heal Technologies.
Interestingly, almost a quarter (23 per cent) of the threats were identified through 'Signatureless behaviour-based' detection by Seqrite, indicating how a growing number of cybercriminals were deploying new or previously unknown threat vectors to compromise enterprise security.
"With the latest Seqrite annual threat report, we want to empower CIOs, CISOs, business leaders and all key public stakeholders with the insights they need to combat the growing complexity of the threat landscape," said Sanjay Katkar, Joint Managing Director and CTO, Quick Heal Technologies.
The most prominent trend was the drastic increase in the volume, intensity, and sophistication of cyber-attack campaigns targeting Indian enterprises in 2019.
The rapid integration of IoT devices, BYOD (bring your own device), and third-party APIs into enterprise networks has created newer security vulnerabilities that might go unnoticed until a major breach occurs.
Threat researchers at Seqrite observed several large-scale advanced persistent threats (APT) attacks deployed against organisations in the government sector.
"The entry of nation-states and organised cybercrime cells into the fray is expected to add more complication to this situation and will require Indian government bodies and corporate enterprises to shore up their cyber defence strategies in 2020 and beyond," the report noted.
More alarming, however, was the continued lack of security awareness amongst enterprises and government organisations.
"Unsecured Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and Server Message Block (SMB) protocols continued to be targeted through brute-force attacks," said the report.
Spear phishing attack campaigns leveraging Office exploits and infected macros were also used extensively by cybercriminals to gain access to enterprise networks and steal critical data.
"India's digital journey depends on ensuring robust cybersecurity for all stakeholders within the enterprise ecosystem," said Katkar.
The sharp spike should be a cause of concern for CIOs and CISOs in the country, especially given the growing digital penetration within their enterprise networks.
"With network vulnerabilities and potential entry points increasing at a rapid pace, threat actors are expected to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to power their malware campaigns in the future to capitalise on newer attack vectors," the report added.