1. SolarWinds Supply Chain Attack: The SolarWinds cyberattack, discovered in December 2020, continued to unravel in 2021, revealing one of the most significant cyber espionage campaigns targeting governments and organizations worldwide.
2. Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Attack: In May 2021, the Colonial Pipeline, a major fuel pipeline operator in the United States, fell victim to a ransomware attack that led to a temporary shutdown, causing fuel shortages and price hikes across the East Coast.
3. Microsoft Exchange Server Vulnerabilities: In March 2021, it was revealed that multiple zero-day vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server had been exploited by nation-state hackers to gain access to millions of email accounts worldwide, leading to a massive global response to patch affected systems.
4. JBS Foods Ransomware Attack: JBS Foods, one of the world’s largest meat suppliers, became the target of a ransomware attack in May 2021, affecting several of their facilities worldwide and leading to disruptions in meat production and supply chains.
5. Kaseya VSA Supply Chain Attack: In July 2021, a supply chain attack targeting Kaseya—one of the leading providers of managed service software—affected thousands of its customers worldwide, highlighting the potential impact of third-party software vulnerabilities.
6. Ransomware Surge: Ransomware attacks continued to surge in 2021, impacting organizations of all sizes and sectors globally, with notable incidents like the attack on Ireland’s Health Service Executive and the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine.
7. Exploitation of Zero-Day Vulnerabilities: Multiple zero-day vulnerabilities were uncovered throughout the year, including in widely used software like Windows, iOS, and Android, emphasizing the critical importance of timely updates and patching.
8. Internet of Things (IoT) Security Risks: The proliferation of IoT devices continued to pose significant security risks, with incidents like the Mirai botnet variant targeting vulnerable devices, highlighting the need for stronger IoT security practices.
9. Increase in Insider Threats: Insider threats gained attention in 2021, with notable incidents like the attempted poisoning of a Florida water treatment plant, emphasizing the need for robust controls to detect and prevent insider attacks.
10. Global Regulatory Efforts: Governments worldwide focused on enhancing cyber security regulations, with initiatives like the EU’s Digital Services Act and Network Information Security Directive, demonstrating the growing recognition of cyber security as a critical global issue.