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Global cyber-incidents soar by 63% in the last three years - Linklaters report

New trends emerging; the dual use of artificial intelligence as both a cyber threat as well as a cybersecurity solution

  • UK attacks up from none in 2016 to five in 2018
  • North Korea and Iran have become increasingly active in cyber-attacks in the last few years

Analysis of data from the Centre for Strategic & International Studies  by global law firm Linklaters shows that the number of significant cyber-attacks on government agencies, defence and high-tech companies, or financial crime with losses of more than US$1million are up 63%, from 41 incidents in 2016 to 67 in January to October 2018.

While the US continued to feel the brunt of cyber-attacks, with 24 incidents during the first ten months of 2018, the UK was victim to five attacks during this time, up from four significant attacks in 2017 and none in 2016. UK attacks last year included criminals targeting critical infrastructure by infiltrating supply chains.

While governments and corporations are actively working to prevent the risk of cyber-attacks, the threats are becoming difficult to monitor as criminals from a new wave of countries are becoming more active in cybercrime in the last few years. North Korea and Iran have seen a notable increase, with one significant cyber incident recorded for Iran in 2016 compared to six in 2018, and three noted for North Korea in 2016 compared to seven this year.

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Increase in cyber-attacks with losses of more than US$1million since 2016
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Cyber-attacks occurred in USA alone from January 2018 to October 2018
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Cyber-attacks occurred in 2018, compared to 4 in 2017 and 0 in 2016
As the number of cyber incidents continue to rise and cybercriminals become more sophisticated, we could see new technologies used in cyberattacks.

Examples of this could include the potential dual use of artificial intelligence as both a cyber threat as well as a cybersecurity solution, and the creation of greater risks due to the increasing collection of data through the internet of things and machine to machine communications.

Tanguy Van Overstraeten, Global Head of Privacy and Data Protection at Linklaters

Lurie Fade

Adam Lurie, Head of Linklaters’ Dispute Resolution in the US and the Americas

Hackers are showing no sign of letting up on cybercrime, making it challenging for companies to keep their security procedures up to scratch, let alone get ahead of attacks.

Organisations face severe risk if they fall victim to a cyber breach, ranging from reputational damage to financial loss. As the pace of cybercrime increases, the risks could go as far as the organisation ceasing to exist all together. Incidents are spreading to new countries and organisations across the world need to bolster their defences.


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