There can be a fine line between malware and dubious applications, but NSO’s spyware Pegasus is so far past that line that you can’t even see it anymore.
We often hear of strains of distributed malware in third-party app stores, and sometimes they even make it past the gates and find them coming from official sources. What separates Pegasus from the rest is that it’s likely the most advanced spyware ever identified in the wild. The reason is simple; it exploits zero-day vulnerabilities in popular applications such as WhatsApp, iMessage and FaceTime to infect smartphones.
The NSO Group has been around for half a decade and specializes in selling government-grade spyware to a select pool of customers such as governments and law enforcement agencies. They’ve always asserted that law agencies and other institutions use their software for legitimate reasons. However, it’s challenging to find corroborating evidence since such agencies won’t admit to buying or using spyware.
It turns out that people can protect their iOS and Android devices from Pegasus if they only take one extra step.
Imagine a world without privacy
Spyware is a category of malware that grants third parties access to private information, including photos, files messages and call records from apps that are supposedly safe from such interference. The applications targeted by Pegasus are some of the most secure communication apps in existence: WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Gmail.
Operators wielding this spyware would also be able to take screenshots, exfiltrate photos and directly access the phone’s camera and microphone. Since our smartphones are constantly at attention, attacks would have a 24/7 window into a target’s life.
The process of compromising a device begins with the exploitation of the software to circumvent the built-in safety features. Once the device has been “rooted” or “jailbroken”, an application can have unrestricted access to stored data and other apps running on the phone. However, the compromised mobile phone remains open to all types of attacks even after the government-sanctioned data collection program has finished.
Fortunately, there is still hope for people who use security solutions and take the precautions they need to guard their digital lives.
No one is safe from attack, but everyone can be protected
It is possible to protect our digital life by taking several common-sense measures that dramatically limit the success rate of a potential Pegasus attack:
Install applications from legitimate sources only. Avoid installing apps sent as links over messaging platforms, as they may be compromised.
Always install OS updates and security patches as soon as they become available. If you are planning to leave the country for a vacation or business trip, make sure that your device is fully patched before you leave your home. Most mobile phones don’t download bulky updates via 4G, particularly when roaming on a foreign network.
Set a pin- or pattern-based lock screen to prevent unauthorized physical access to your device.
Regularly check which apps have device administrator privileges on your device and revisit your security choices if needed.
This is also why you need a security solution to automate security decisions, such as Bitdefender Mobile Security app on iOS or Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android, which first identified the Pegasus spyware back in 2017 and, over the years, has constantly improved detection to keep up with this ever-improving spyware framework.
While mobile platforms give the impression of heightened security, Pegasus is a stark reminder that, as long as your device connects to the internet, it will never be safe as-is. The need for security solutions is now more evident than ever.
Did you know that most electronic devices and the majority of the Internet-connected devices (IOT) can be hacked?
In this article, we will look at some hacking statistics to illustrate the impact of hackers’ activities in modern society. Naturally, hacks are a great concern for website owners – but the truth is that all Web denizens are susceptible to hacking activity.
In the text below you will find some fantastic stats which will help us to find out:
Which is the biggest bank heist that was pulled off by cybercriminals?
Which is the most significant data breach of our time?
Are ATMs vulnerable to hacker attacks?
When did the first hack happen?
Also, we’ll visit the dark web’s markets to see how much it costs to buy a new identity.
Now let’s get started with some hacking stats.
There is a hacker attack every 39 seconds
Russian hackers are the fastest
300,000 new malwares are created every day
Multi-factor authentication and encryption are the biggest hacker obstacles
You can become an American citizen for $6,000
The cost of data breaches will increase to $2.1 trillion globally in 2019
The cybersecurity budget in the US is $14.98 billion
Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Let’s delve in deeper and find more details about each one.
Outrageous Hacking Statistics
Some of the cyber breaches are audacious, others outrageous, yet others simply stunning.
1. There is a hacker attack every 39 seconds.
(Source: Security magazine)
By the time the average person takes a selfie and uploads it to Instagram, the next hacker attack has already taken place.
2. Cybercrime is more profitable than the global illegal drug trade.
(Source: Cybersecurity Ventures)
The profit from the illegal drug industry amounts to around $400 billion annually. For comparison, cybercriminals have earned a total of around $600 billion in 2018.
3. Hackers steal 75 records every second.
(Source: Breach Level Index)
Cybersecurity facts show us the average number of record stolen per second. Breaches are actually a lot rarer than that – it’s just that each breach allows for a lot of records to be stolen.
4. 66% of businesses attacked by hackers weren’t confident they could recover.
Most businesses don’t really know if they’re prepared for a cyber attack. Actually, 75% of all businesses don’t even have a formal cyber attack response plan.
Cyber attacks statistics reveal that in 2018:
5. 73% of black hat hackers said traditional firewall and antivirus security is irrelevant or obsolete.
According to the same survey, 80% of hackers say “humans are the most responsible for security breaches”.
6. The cybersecurity budget in the US is $14.98 billion in 2019.
In just two years, the U.S. cybersecurity budget rose by almost 14%. It used to be just $13.15 billion in 2017.
Like everything, there’s a balance in the cyber-world as well. Hacking facts show that:
7. White hat hackers earned over $19 million in bounties in 2018.
What’s interesting here is that 81% of them learned their craft mostly through blogs and educational materials online. Only 6% completed a formal class.
8. There are over 715,000 cybersecurity experts employed in the US alone.
There were 313,735 job openings for cybersecurity experts until August 2018. This number will continue to grow as we’ll see a bit later. Cybersecurity statistics assure us this will be one of the best paying jobs in the near future.
Are you learning stuff? Good, those stats are awesome. All these numbers look impressive, don’t they? There are more to come, but let’s pause for a second to see the world through hackers’ eyes.
For example – if you see new technology, the first logical question you may pose is – “What does it do?”
Hackers see it differently, though – their question is “What can I make it do?”
These statistics on hacking may not help us understand how a hacker thinks, but we can make some definitive conclusions about their nature.
First off, let me explain the difference between a black hat hacker, a white hat hacker, and grey hat hacker.
Black hat hackers are hackers with criminal intent.
White hat hackers are hired to test the security of a system. They have permission to do it.
Grey hat hackers don’t have criminal motives, but once they start exploiting a system, they can break some laws.
Now that we have the basics, let’s continue with some…
Stunning Hacker Statistics
The statements below are checked facts, not empty statements.
9. Russian hackers can infiltrate a computer network in 18 minutes.
Want to reread the above stat? 18 minutes. I drink my morning coffee longer than that.
Russian hackers aren’t wasting any time when they put their mind to it. North Korean hackers need just under two and a half hours. Chinese ones take longer – about 4 hours.
10. Hackers are the average American’s biggest fear.
1% of Americans are wary of hackers stealing their credit card or financial info. Considering how many cyber attacks happen per day in the US, we can understand why that is. US citizens also worry about the possibility of identity theft – 67%.
The possibility of being assaulted or killed by a co-worker where you work – 7%. I sure don’t want to go to their office.
11. You can purchase a consumer account for $1 on the dark market.
You can buy a bus ticket for a dollar. Or you can buy a ticket to an eCommerce site. The choice is yours.
When looking at data breach statistics, we can see that billions of records have been stolen. This created an abundance of credentials for sale, which reflects on their price. Bank accounts still cost more – between $3 and $24 apiece. Most other online accounts cost $1 or less.
12. More than 6,000 online criminal marketplaces sell ransomware products and services.
A total of 45,000 products are on sale there. If we add all non-ransomware products and services, the number will easily exceed 1 million.
13. 444,259 ransomware attacks took place worldwide in 2018.
Almost 1 in 4 (100,907) occurred within the consumer marketplace.
Hacking statistics for 2019 also show us that:
14. Hackers create 300,000 new pieces of malware daily.
I guess some people’s fingers never sleep. Let’s hope cybersecurity specialists are up to the task.
And speaking of cybersecurity specialists:
15. There will be 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs openings in 2021.
There are almost 314,000 job openings for cybersecurity specialists in the US alone as of October 2018. Cybersecurity Ventures expects that cybercrime will more than triple the number of job openings over the next five years.
Now let’s have a break from the hacking statistics for a while.
See, hackers are like you and me in a way. They are curious about the world and themselves. Some of them describe hacking as an adrenaline rush. All people have “their thing” – some dance, some climb mountains and so on. Hackers exploit vulnerabilities. Come to think of it – it’s like a puzzle. Put all the right pieces together, and voila.
Now let’s imagine a situation. You are in a hotel. There is a TV in your room. What do you see? “A TV”, most of you would say. What does a hacker see? A gateway to the hotel’s network. It’s similar to any other target.
How and Why Were Companies Hacked in 2018
Businesses are deemed lucrative and often easy prey. So business owners must be ever vigilant, thus choosing a good hosting provider, such as Guru or GetFlywheel is an important step in the right direction.
16. 65% of companies have over 1,000 stale user accounts.
Stale accounts and outdated permissions are targets for exploitation and malicious use. Hackers desire data, and they can get it by hijacking an account.
While we’re on the topic:
17. 32% of black hat hackers admit privileged accounts are their number one way to hack systems.
Seizing such an account could be pretty easy with a simple phishing attack.
18. 75% of all attacked business reported fraudulent emails.
(Source: Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2018)
Fraudulent emails as part of a phishing strategy are still a hacker’s favourite tool to obtain credentials.
Computer hacking statistics also show that:
19. 15% of UK businesses lost control over a network to a hacker.
(Source: Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2018)
Unauthorized use of systems, computers or servers from outside entities rose by 5% in 2018.
20. Companies protect only 3% of their folders.
And 88% of companies with over 1 million folders have over 100,000 folders open to everyone. Certainly makes a hacker’s job easier.
Lousy protection is one of the main reasons why…
21. 43% of UK businesses have reported breaches or attacks in the last 12 months.
(Source: Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2018)
Cyber attack statistics show 72% of large companies report such events.
22. Up until March 2019, more than 14 billion data records had been lost or stolen.
(Source: Breach Level Index)
The exact number as of March 27, 2019, is 14,717,618,286. Only 4% of these breaches were “Secure Breaches”, meaning the data was encrypted and therefore rendered useless.
So far we’ve looked at the possibilities for hackers to cause damage. Now let’s check out some examples of their handiwork:
How Giants Fall – Data Breach Statistics
The numbers in some of the biggest data breaches are stupefyingly big.
23. Yahoo’s data breach – 3 billion compromised accounts.
It’s quite a story. In 2016 Yahoo admits the truth about the most significant data breach in history. They publicly state that 500 million users’ accounts were compromised in 2014.
Later the company declared there was another breach in 2013 with another 1 billion compromised accounts. Finally, in 2017, Yahoo said the whole truth – the attacks had compromised a total of 3 billion user accounts.
It is still the most significant data breach in history.
One of the recent big hacks happened in 2017, when…
24. 209,000 payment card numbers and expiration dates were stolen from Equifax.
146.6 million names, dates of birth and 145.5 million US social security numbers were taken as well from the credit monitoring firm.
25. Marriot International – 500 million users’ data stolen.
In 2018 Marriot International discovered attackers, who had remained in the system since 2014. The hackers stole the credit card numbers and expiration dates of more than 100 million customers. The other 400 million lost “only” some part of their private info – names, passport numbers.
And here’s what the hacked companies will have to pay in 2019:
26. The cost of data breaches will increase to $2.1 trillion globally in 2019.
(Source: Juniper Research)
Well, that’s more than Italy’s GDP in 2018. Тhis number has increased almost four times since 2015.
Since we started talking about money, I want to ask you a question – where is the money?
Once upon a time, there were some people with lots of money. They had so much money, they had to build a house for their money. And that’s how banks appeared.
In the next section, we’ll take a look at the banks hacked in 2018. What do criminals do with banks? They rob them. Cybercriminals do the pretty much the same thing, in a more subtle way.
27. Hackers siphoned off $13.4 million from Cosmos Bank in India.
(Source: Hindustan Times)
In 2018 Cybercriminals hacked the bank’s servers on August 11 and 13. The culprits stole the card details of around 12,000 Visa cards.
Long story short – the hackers made it rain 15,000 transactions later.
The next one is really exciting. It makes Jesse James look like a harmless kid on the path of righteousness (his dad was a preacher).
One of the most interesting hacking facts online is that:
28. The Carbanak gang of hackers has stolen over $1 billion in total.
(Source: Kaspersky, Securelist)
We can’t classify this as the biggest bank robbery in history, but it sure is interesting. They targeted around 100 banks around the world, and it took 2-4 months to siphon the money out from each one. The losses per bank were up to $10 million each. The cybercriminals started to test the Carbanak malware in 2013, and it’s still on the loose.
The good news is in 2018 the authorities caught the mastermind in Spain.
These next few cyber hacking statistics visualize how much cybercrime can cost us.
29. Cybercrime cost the world almost $600 billion in 2018.
This number amounts to 0.8% of the global GDP.
To acquire such amounts of money, black hat hackers need specific tools. You can’t find most of them just anywhere. Where do they get them? Let’s find out.
Dark Market Stats
The dark web’s customers may find almost everything there. Thankfully the light side has some tricks prepared to change the cyber attacks statistics in 2019
30. 68% of black hat hackers say multi-factor authentication and encryption are the biggest hacker obstacles.
Use 2FA whenever possible. Just a tip.
The dark web can’t help you much with 2FA, but there’s a lot of stuff you can buy if you have some Bitcoins ready.
31. For as low as $1.25 you can get a Netflix account.
(Source: Wondershare, dr.fone)
Netflix streaming is one of the standard hacking services and widely available. For a small fee, you’ll receive the email and password of someone’s Netflix account. Just imagine how many people’s credentials have been hacked or stolen for the price to get this low.
32. You can purchase the WinPot malware for 1 bitcoin.
Don’t know what WinPot does? Nothing much ? It only makes the ATMs by a popular ATM vendor dispense all the cash from their cassettes.
By the way, did you know that
33. 92% of ATMs are vulnerable to hacker attacks.
There are several ways to hack an ATM, but consider this – if your card data is stolen, then 100% of ATMs would be vulnerable to this kind of attack.
When talking about the dark web and hackers, a question arises – How many hackers are there?
No one knows.
But we can make an educated guess based on the following stat:
34. The Tor network had more than 2.2 million users in 2017.
The dark web hosted almost 60,000 unique onion domains, and around 57% of them hosted illegal content.
And one more interesting fact for the dark market, before we move on:
35. You can become an American citizen for $6,000.
You can also buy a fake passport + driving license + ID card from different countries if you can spare 700-900 euro. (approx. $787-$1010 at the exchange rate at the time of writing)
Let’s move on from the hacking statistics of 2018.
Hacking isn’t all about criminal masterminds and cybersecurity. Sometimes it’s fun, and I have a list for you.
Not all cyber attacks are malicious or vicious. Hackers have a wicked sense of humour.
36. Operation Cupcake
(Source: Washington Post)
In 2011 MI6 took down the instructions for bomb-making from an online al-Qaeda magazine and replaced them with recipes for cake. I guess the Taliban didn’t fall for it since there were no exploding muffins in the last eight years.
37. #Lil’ Trump
This is one of the hacking facts I’ll cherish in my memory. In 2013 Donald Trump’s Twitter account was hacked, and the hacker posted some Lil’ Wayne lyrics.
(Source: Daily Mail)
In 2012, Iran’s nuclear facilities were under cyberattack. The hackers forced workers at two of the nuclear facilities to listen to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck repeatedly at full volume. Even if you’re a fan, it can still annoy you at some point.
39. Friendless Samy
In 2005 Samy Kamkar took down MySpace. For our younger readers, MySpace was a social network like Facebook, only cooler. If someone shuts down Facebook now, it would be one of the biggest hacks of 2019. However, Samy didn’t want to shut down MySpace. All he wanted was…some friends. To achieve his dream he wrote a worm, exploiting a vulnerability in MySpace. Infected profiles became “friends” to Samy’s page. And then their friends as well and so on. It took Samy a day to get a million friends on his page. MySpace couldn’t take it.
40. The first hack
In 1903 Guglielmo Marconi (the father of modern radio) was ready to transmit a message via the first wireless broadcasting technology. It used the same system as the telegraph. When he was prepared to send the message, the apparatus began to tap out a message in Morse code. The word was “RATS”, repeated over and over again. The first of the many hacking cases to come in history happened because the radio’s channel wasn’t as private as Marconi thought. More than a century later we still have the same problem.
Well, that’s all folks. I hope you found this article helpful and interesting. We learned some cool facts together and we saw the world of hackers is not just about money. Curiosity and ethics play a large role as well.