In 2021, cybersecurity got more serious. Already a growing threat, ransomware exploded, with attacks becoming more frequent and costly. The volume of ransomware attacks against US targets rose 185% year over year in the first half of 2021, according to Internet security solutions provider SonicWall. Criminals also leaned hard on double extortion and turned their efforts against organisations like food supplier JBS and Colonial Pipeline, where system interruptions wouldn't just harm the victim and their clients, but also a broad swath of society.
Federal response got more serious, too, homing in on defending critical infrastructure, and states haven't sat on the sidelines, either. Several moved to ban ransom payments and direct more resources toward defending against the threats, although researchers say fully tackling the problem requires national and international coordination.