The Human Factor Report 2022

The 2022 Human Factor Report Explores a Year of Headline-Making Attacks

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Today we’re launching the 2022 edition of our Human Factor report. Drawing on insights and data from our products and researchers, it tells the story of a year when cybersecurity jumped from the tech page to the front page. As usual, we’ll explore all of this from a people-centric point of view, looking at the lures attackers used to bypass defenses and persuade victims to download or click on something they shouldn’t.

The threats we detected, mitigated and resolved for Proofpoint customers in 2021 are the core of our analysis. Together they make up one of the largest datasets in cybersecurity. And as attackers continue to probe for new access points, we’ve expanded our coverage of mobile and cloud threats.

A year of headline-making attacks

At the start of 2021, vaccine rollout let people imagine an end to pandemic disruption. But some of the world’s smartest cyber criminals weren’t interested in returning to business as normal. Over the first half of the year, a series of ransomware attacks on global infrastructure pushed cybersecurity to the top of the political and media agenda. That’s a position the topic still occupies as geopolitical tensions raise the possibility of state-directed cyber-attacks.

But while big targets and big ransoms made headlines, perennial threats like business email compromise (BEC) often carried the biggest costs. After a year like 2021, it’s worth noting that for most defenders, it’s the stress of hijacked invoices and financially motivated malware that fills their days, not state-sponsored attacks.

Key findings from this year’s Human Factor include:

  • More than 20 million messages tried to deliver malware linked to eventual ransomware attack.
  • Over 80% of businesses are attacked by a compromised supplier account in any given month.
  • Attackers attempt over 100,000 telephone-oriented attacks every day.
  • SMS-based phishing attempts doubled in the U.S. year over year.
  • Managers and executives make up only 10% of users, but almost 50% of the most severe attack risk in our data.

Get the full story

Every day, Proofpoint analyzes billions of email messages, URLs and attachments for our global customer base. The Human Factor Report draws on analysis of that data by our team of expert threat researchers.

To read more of their insights, download the full Human Factor report.