10 High Profile Cyber Attacks in 2021

Cyber attacks have become more disruptive than ever before. We look a 10 of the most high profile cases this year.

According to the 2021 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report the world has seen a 62% increase in ransomware since 2019. A figure that is set to rise further still as threats become more sophisticated and difficult to detect. This year has seen the nature of attacks shift away from theft to become more dangerous than ever before. We look a 10 of the most high profile cases this year


10: The Accellion Supply Chain Attack


Confidential data was stolen from several large organisations like Singtel, The University of Colorado, and The Australian Securities & Investments Commission when security software company Accellion’s File Transfer System was breached and subsequently leaked online back in March.


9: Attack on the University of the Highlands and Islands


Scotland’s University of the Highlands and Islands was forced to close all of its colleges and research labs to students on March 7th of this year due to a cybersecurity incident. The attack was notable as it utilised a penetration testing toolkit known as Cobalt Strike, normally used for legitimate purposes.


8:  Acer Ransomware Attack


Computer Hardware giant Acer suffered a security breach resulting in them having to pay a ransom of $50m USD, a record at the time. The attack is believed to have been carried out by cybercriminal group REvil who leaked some of the stolen data online.


7: Bombardier Data Breach


In February of 2021 aerospace company Bombardier saw confidential data of around 130 Employees plus information about customers and suppliers compromised. Vulnerabilities in their third-party File Transfer application were found to be to blame.


6: Microsoft Exchange Server Attack


By exploiting vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Exchange Server this mass Cyber attack affected millions of Microsoft clients in March of this year. 60,000 private companies in the US alone saw disruption from the attack plus nine government agencies


5: CNA Insurance


CNA, one of the larger Insurance firms in the US sustained a serious cyber attack actually causing it to cease trading for a brief period. The breach caused network disruption and had an impact on certain systems like email. Third-party forensic experts determined that a new version of the Phoenix CryptoLocker Malware, a form of ransomware, was used.


4: Australia’s Channel Nine


The Australian broadcaster Channel Nine sustained an attack that rendered the channel unable to air its Sunday News bulletin plus other shows. The incident occurred at the same time as a suspected attack on Australia’s parliament in Canberra triggering concerns about the country’s vulnerability to cyberattacks in general.


3: Florida’s Water Supply


In a bizarre and terrifying turn of events, a cybercriminal managed to infiltrate the city of Oldsmar’s computer system and, for a short time, increased the sodium hydroxide level in the water supply to dangerous levels. 


2: JBS pays $11m USD Cybercrime ransom


Brazil’s JBS, the world’s biggest meat processor, suffered a cyberattack that resulted in the temporary closure of operations in the US, Australia and Canada. The attack threatened supply chains and caused further food price inflation in the US, to prevent further disruptions JBS paid the $11m USD ransom. The criminal group responsible were described by the FBI as one of the most specialised and sophisticated in the world.


1:  The Colonial Pipeline


In May, a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the US disrupted fuel deliveries in twelve states for several days. The pipeline closure caused chaos as millions queued for fuel and the US Environmental Protection Agency were forced to initiate an emergency fuel waiver allowing states to see ‘off-spec’ gasoline to alleviate shortages. Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blout made the decision to pay the $4.4m USD ransom as the extent of the intrusion could not be determined quickly. 



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