Cyberattacks against governments are on the rise in 2023
August 2023 by Atlas VPN
A concerning trend is emerging on the global stage — a rise in cyberattacks targeting government agencies.
According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, in the first half of 2023, there were 49 significant cyber incidents concerning government agencies — a rise of 11% from the same time last year. The attacks affected government bodies in at least 27 countries across the world.
The analysis is based on the information by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which keeps track of significant cyber incidents dating back to 2003. We focused only on cases involving government agencies, their representatives, or contractors.
This year, government agencies in the United States encountered the greatest number of attacks, with 16% specifically aimed at the country.
In January 2023, the cybersecurity agency of the US government issued a warning that financially motivated hackers had breached federal agencies using mate remote desktop software.
Meanwhile, in June, a series of US federal government agencies fell victim to a worldwide cyberattack orchestrated by hackers linked to Russia. Among the affected entities were the Department of Energy and the US Office of Personnel Management. The cybercriminals exploited a vulnerability in software extensively utilized by these agencies, as reported by a US cybersecurity official.
The extended conflict between Russia and Ukraine has also resulted in a number of cyber incidents against state government entities in the countries. In April 2023, cybersecurity experts from the National Security Agency reported instances of ransomware and supply chain attacks originating from Russia. These attacks were aimed at Ukraine and several other European nations providing humanitarian aid during the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
When it comes to potential perpetrators, Russian hackers are at the forefront, believed to be responsible for approximately 29% of these attacks. Following closely are cybercriminals associated with China, accounting for 18%, while Iran ranks third with 10%.
Government agencies accumulate and store a significant amount of sensitive data, such as personal information about individual citizens. This data can be sold on the dark web or held hostage until a ransom is paid, which makes these agencies an attractive target for cybercriminals.
Apart from monetary motives, roughly a quarter (12) of all cyberattacks targeting government agencies worldwide in 2023 can be attributed to state-linked threat actors engaged in cyberespionage campaigns. Additionally, hacktivist activity played a role, constituting approximately 10% of the recorded incidents within the government sector during the first half of 2023.
Since 2005, government agencies worldwide have experienced a total of 616 significant cyberattacks. More than half of these — 56% — occurred just in the last five years, including the first half of 2023.