Acronis Cyberthreats Report: 2021 is the “Year of Blackmail”

Autor: Peter Hale, Date: 2. December 2020

Those who do not learn anything from history are doomed to repeat it. Nobody wants to repeat 2020. Thus, the experts of our worldwide Acronis CPOC network (Cyber ​​Protection Operation Centre) have summarized their research results and observations from the past year in the Acronis Cyberthreats Report 2020 

This report is for our customers and partners and is based on the author’s attack analysis and the data captured by our CPOCs around the clock during the investigation of  cyber threats . The malware data was collected from more than 100,000 endpoints worldwide.

The full report provides insights into the key security and threat trends of 2020, as well as descriptions of malware families and the most dangerous ransomware groups. In addition, it addresses the vulnerabilities that only make the most successful attacks possible.

In addition, our CPOC team investigated the trends and technologies that are likely to be the most serious cyber threats in 2021.

Current Cyber ​​Threat Situation

Even by the end of 2020, Ransomware  continues to be the most prominent cyber threat. One family – the Ransomware Maze –  has been particularly popular with criminals in the past year and has been used in almost 50% of all ransomware cases.


With this Acronis Cyberthreats Report, our experts point out a new trend: Since the attackers have predicted maximum financial gain, they not only demand ransom for the decryption of infected data, but steal increased proprietary or partly compromising data before encrypting it. Subsequently, they threaten with the publication of the stolen data if the victim does not pay.

Our CPOC analysts found that in 2020, more than 1,000 companies worldwide had leaked data following a ransomware attack. This trend will, in our opinion, continue to intensify over the next 12 months, with these cybercriminals taking over encryption as their primary attacking tactic.

While the COVID-19 pandemic and the work in the Home Office have intensified the existing security problems, Acronis warns that 2021will be the “year of extortion” and cybercriminals will move from encryption to data exfiltration. 

“This year, IT managers, companies and the service providers they support face more challenges than any other year in recent history,” said co-founder of Acronis and Technology President Stas Protassov. “We have seen how quickly criminal actors can launch their attacks  could on the new IT scene. We have analysed the revealed activities, attacks and trends and are now presenting our findings. We hope that our partners and the general IT community will benefit from it and be better prepared for the new threats.”


Important findings from the report

The warning about switching to data exfiltration is just one of several important findings from the Acronis Cyberthreats Report. In view of current trends, the report also states the following:

• Attacks on Home Office employees are on the rise. Attacks against Home Office employees are on the rise. Even though 31% of companies around the world were attacked daily in 2020, the number of attacks on employees in the Home Office will continue to increase in 2021. In doing so, cyber criminals focus on the less protected systems outside the corporate network in order to access corporate data.

• Ransomware will search for new victims and distribute automatically. Ransomware attackers will focused approaches and set sights on lucrative targets. Compromising a network to steal data from multiple companies is more lucrative than attacking each individual company. Therefore, cloud environments and managed service providers become the more interesting destinations.

• Older solutions have problems keeping pace. Since the average lifespan of malware variants in the year 2020 is just 3.4 days, conventional malware protection products are outdated by the speed of change and thus become obsolete. Since stand-alone backup and cyber security solutions are no longer sufficient, businesses need new strategies and solutions that stay one step ahead of threats.


“Current trends in cyber attacks show that conventional cyber security and existing solutions and strategies are failing. The reason for this is mostly weaknesses in technology and human error.  Both are avoidable,” added Candid Wüest, vice president of cyber protection research at Acronis and co-author of the report. “Like cybercriminals, their attacks adapt constantly, companies also need to further develop their protection and security. Comprehensive Cyber Protection Solutions have the necessary integrations and automation features to avoid complexity, optimize performance, and facilitate recovery once a successful attack occurs.”


Download Acronis Cyberthreats Report 2020

Many want to leave the year 2020 behind. However, a look back at the cyber security problems of the past year provides valuable insights into already known threats, which will continue to be with us. At the same time, this knowledge helps us prepare for the security problems we have to reckon with in 2021.

We want everyone to benefit from the findings of Acronis Cyberthreats Reports 2020 – Managed Service Providers as well as Business Owners and IT Team Leaders.

A copy of the full report is available for download here.