Although cyberattacks have been increasing annually for years, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused hacks to skyrocket.

With cybercrime up by 600% in the past year, it’s no wonder that even the biggest, and seemingly most secure, corporations have been targeted. Though there are too many cybersecurity hacks to list, the most notable hacks of 2021 include:

National Basketball Association (NBA)

In April of 2021, the Houston Rockets team of the NBA announced that their network had been targeted by a ransomware attack. This attack was perpetrated by the hacking group Babuk, who stated that they stole approximately 500GB of business operation data from the professional basketball team. 

Despite this claim, most of the NBA team’s systems were secure enough to prevent the ransomware from being installed. Furthermore, the data that was stolen was not believed to be personal data. 

Florida Water System

On February 5, 2021, a hacking group gained access to Florida Water System and attempted to poison Florida waters. Fortunately, an employee at the water treatment facility spotted the hack almost immediately, and damage was prevented. 

The hacker gained access to the systems through remote access software, highlighting the importance of multi-factor authentication – especially in systems that are accessed remotely. With the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has increased significantly, making access easier than ever before for hackers.

Microsoft Exchange

Microsoft Exchange, a popular email server, was hacked by the hacking group known as Hafnium in early 2021. This group found four holes in Microsoft Exchange’s software and exploited these, resulting in hundreds of thousands of organizations. 

Though Microsoft released emergency software updates to patch these holes, the attackers ramped up their efforts and quickly scanned for servers that had not been updated yet, resulting in additional organizations being severely compromised. 

CNA Financial

On March 21, one of the biggest insurance companies in the United States – CNA Financial – fell victim to a ransomware attack by the hacking group Phoenix. After the hackers demanded $60 million in exchange for the stolen data, CNA agreed to pay them $40 million. 

Though ransomware payoffs are often not public knowledge, CNA’s $40 million payoff is believed to be one of the largest in history. As ransomware demands are increasing, law officials are discouraging payoffs, as they only serve to embolden hackers. 


In March of 2021, computer company Acer was targeted by the ransomware group REvil, who demanded a $30 million payoff within the first eight days of the data breach. They stated that the payoff would increase to $100 million if they did not receive a payment within those days. 

Colonial Pipeline

Last but certainly not least, the notorious Colonial Pipeline attack occurred in May of 2021, disrupting fuel supply for about a week. The hacking group known as DarkSide was responsible for the attack and received $5 million from the company to get their systems back online. 

Though the majority of the Bitcoin paid was recovered, it had dropped in value, leading to a recovery of only $2.3 million. 

Protect your company from cyber attacks

This dramatic increase of cyber attacks, and the Colonial Pipeline attack, led to President Joe Biden signing an executive order to strengthen the federal standards for cyberattack prevention. To ensure that your business is protected from this rising threat, search for IT services in Houston. No matter how small your business is, you could be the next victim.