Observed Changes to the Threat Landscape in 2020

Reflecting on the cybersecurity threat landscape in 2020, we can’t overlook the massive changes that landed on us. Global security attacks increased at a significant pace between 2019 and 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic only deepened these troubling conditions. As corporations tried to adapt to remote working practices and other environmental changes, cybercriminals ramped up their attacks 

By following the trends, we will try to show the clear line of escalation, with a brief overview of the current state and how Akamai solutions and technologies interact to help corporate security teams face the day-to-day challenges in a much more holistic way that is relevant to the always-changing threat landscape. 


Phishing is one of the top threat vectors used in most attacks today. It exploits the human factor, which is often the weakest link in the chain. People usually work according to a daily routine, and attackers apply social engineering and psychological techniques so their victims provide the information they seek. Illustrated below are some phishing campaigns that succeeded in getting victims to provide attackers with their credentials. 

Screen Shot 2021-04-26 at 1.39.00 PM.jpgDuring 2020, Akamai enterprise traffic saw more than 100% increase in year-over-year phishing attacks that targeted mostly gaming, technology, and e-commerce verticals, as shown in Figures 1, 2, and 3.  

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Figure 1. Phishing target: e-commerce. Activity beginning July 2019 and compared with 2020.

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Figure 2. Phishing target: gaming. Activity beginning July 2019 and compared with 2020.

Image 3sec.pngFigure 3. Phishing target: technology. Activity beginning July 2019 and compared with 2020.

Emotet is one of the largest malware campaign infrastructures. It started by initially targeting finance but soon after transformed to malware as a service for cybercriminals, opening a path for other attacks from TrickBot to Ryuk ransomware.

Figure 4 shows that the Emotet campaign threat activity increased by more than 5 times in 2020.

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Figure 4. Emotet threat activity: beginning July 2019 and compared with 2020.

Specifically, we can still see Emotet activity during the time frame from July 2020 to even after the FBI took down the infrastructure. Only…


Nearly 12 lakh cyber security incidents observed in 2020: MHA

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In response to a parliamentary question, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) revealed that the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) tracked 11,58,208 cybersecurity incidents in 2020. This is a sharp rise from the 3,94,499 incidents that occurred in 2019. In a different answer to a Lok Sabha query, the government said that CERT-in received 26,121 reports of Indian websites being hacked last year, of which 59 websites belonged to central and state governments.

For more info on some of the major cyberattacks that occurred in 2020, read our earlier story: 2020 was a good year for cyber criminals, a bad one for financial and payments security

MHA did not provide any further details on the cyberattacks but lists several initiatives taken by the government to prevent cyber attacks:

  1. CERT-In issues alerts and advisories to concerned entities on the latest cyber threats
  2. The government has issued guidelines for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) regarding their responsibility for securing government applications and infrastructure.
  3. A Cyber Crisis Management Plan (CCMP) has been formulated for implementation in all government entities.
  4. All government websites and applications are audited with respect to cybersecurity, both before and after hosting.
  5. The government is operating Cyber Swachhta Kendra, a botnet cleaning and malware analysis centre that provides tools to detect malicious programs and remove them.
  6. The National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) has been set up to generate awareness of existing and potential cybersecurity threats.

The government was responding to a Lok Sabha query by BJP MP Pratima Bhoumik.

Full question and answer

Will the Minister of HOME AFFAIRS be pleased to state:

(a) whether there has been an increase in cyber attacks in the country;

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(b) if so, the details of cyber attacks reported during the last two years;

(c) whether there are reports of cyber attack into systems of the companies which manage power supply and also into the system of a company which is supplying COVID-19 Vaccine across the country; and

(d) if so, the details thereof along with the action taken by the Government in this…