Major Spike in Public Sector Attacks in 2023


KnowBe4 has released its report on the most popular and prolific cybercrimes of 2023 with a focus on the public sector.

The report – Can The Public Sector Face The Coming Wave Of Attacks? – examines cybercrime trends, statistics and real-life examples on a global scale as well as breaking it down by specific countries and regions, while providing possible defenses to safeguard against it.

The public sector is becoming an increasingly attractive target for cybercriminals everywhere. This comes as no surprise as government agencies and public sector services retain personal data on the vast majority of people, information that is invaluable to cybercriminals.

The report is packed with startling facts and statistics highlighting the sharp rise in cyber attacks in this sector. Some of these include:

  • Cyber attacks against government agencies and public sector services increased by 40% in the second quarter of 2023 compared to the first
  • Government agencies and law practices experienced the largest spike in ransomware attacks at 95% in quarter three of 2023
  • Global ransomware attacks were up by 95% in the third quarter of 2023 when compared to the same period in 2022
  • The cost of a data breach increased by 15% over three years
  • Generative AI is increasingly being adopted by cybercriminals to create sophisticated social engineering attacks

In our current digital era, common and constantly updated tactics of social engineering such as phishing, vishing, spear phishing, and smishing continue to be the most popular and effective tactics used by cybercriminals to gain access to systems and initiate their attacks.

There is a critical need to strengthen the human aspect of cybersecurity within organisations through comprehensive security awareness training. It is an undeniable fact that employees, the last line of defence, can inadvertently become the weakest link in the security chain.

“Through proper training initiatives, this cost-effective and straightforward approach can effectively counteract social engineering tactics,” Stu Sjouwerman, CEO, KnowBe4. “However, as the sophistication of attacks designed to exploit the human factor increases, the continuous reinforcement of a strong security culture is an indispensable tool for enduring digital defence and operational continuity.”

You can read the full report here.