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Over 40 Billion Records Exposed in 2021, Reveals Research

Analysis of the events for this report found that many are readily mitigated by patching legacy vulnerabilities and addressing misconfigurations to help limit attack paths.

Tenable has recently revealed shocking research that showed that at least 40,417,167,937 records were exposed worldwide in 2021, as calculated by Tenable’s Security Response Team’s analysis of 1,825 breach data incidents publicly disclosed between November 2020 and October 2021.

Records Exposed ResearchThis is a considerable increase in the same period in 2020, which saw 730 publicly disclosed events with just over 22 billion records exposed.

“Throughout 2021, CERT-In issued advisories on how unpatched vulnerabilities in Microsoft Active Directory and web browsers were the major causes for cyberattacks such as ransomware among Indian organizations. Tenable’s research correlates to these trends as ransomware groups in APAC leveraged known unpatched vulnerabilities to perpetrate attacks. The report provides security leaders in India a glimpse into why outdated cybersecurity strategies need to change with the evolving threat landscape,” said Satnam Narang, Staff Research Engineer, Tenable. “In 2022, the intensified reliance on digital systems combined with the use of digital currencies will financially motivate attackers to ply their trade. Security leaders must understand how threat actors behaved in 2021, so they can formulate effective, proactive cybersecurity strategies in 2022 to raise the barrier of entry.”

Of the 1,825 breaches analyzed, 236 happened in APAC, with at least 3,463,489,341 exposed records, representing 8.6% of the global tally.

This analysis is detailed in Tenable’s 2021 Threat Landscape Retrospective (TLR) report, published, and includes an overview of the attack path and vulnerabilities threat actors favor, and insights that will help organizations prepare to face the oncoming challenges in 2022.

By understanding threat actor behavior, organizations can effectively prioritize security efforts to disrupt attack paths and protect critical systems and assets.

Analysis of the events for this report found that many are readily mitigated by patching legacy vulnerabilities and addressing misconfigurations to help limit attack paths.

Ransomware had a monumental impact on organizations in 2021, responsible for approximately 38% of all breaches, and 31% of breaches in APAC.

In APAC, 10% of breaches were the result of unsecured cloud databases, higher than the global average (6%).

  • Unpatched SSL VPNs continue to provide an ideal entry point for attackers to perform cyber espionage, exfiltrate sensitive and proprietary information as well as encrypt networks.
  • Threat groups, particularly ransomware, have increasingly exploited vulnerabilities and misconfigurations in Active Directory.
  • Software libraries and network stacks used commonly amongst OT devices often introduce additional risk when security controls and code audits are not in place.
  • Ransomware groups favored physical supply chain disruption as a tactic to extort payment while cyberespionage campaigns exploited the software supply chain to access sensitive data.
  • Whilst healthcare and education remain the most-targeted industries worldwide, APAC shows another picture, with the technology industry and governments being the two largest victims of breaches.

Staying on top of patching assets is difficult enough given the sheer volume of disclosed vulnerabilities, but in 2021 it was even more challenging due to incomplete patches, miscommunications from vendors and patch bypasses.

In 2021, there were 21,957 common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) reported, representing a 19.6% increase over the 18,358 reported in 2020 and a 241% increase over the 6,447 disclosed in 2016. From 2016 to 2021 the number of CVEs increased at an average annual percentage growth rate of 28.3%.

Throughout the year, Tenable’s Security Response Team tracks and reports on vulnerabilities and security incidents, guiding security professionals as they plan their response strategies.

The team’s work allows them to closely observe the ever-changing dynamics of the threat landscape.


Aishwarya Saxena

A book geek, with creative mind, an electronics degree, and zealous for writing.Creativity is the one thing in her opinion which drove her to enter into editing field. Allured towards south Indian cuisine and culture, love to discover new cultures and their customs. Relishes in discovering new music genres.

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