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A computer user points at the word "Bitcoin" in ransom message associated with the NotPetya malware. Photo: Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images.

Hackers dramatically increased the number and scope of attacks on software manufacturers as a way to attack user machines in 2017, according to a new report by Symantec. "When you look at the numbers, it's no longer one off attacks," Kevin Haley, director of Symantec Security Response, told Axios.

Why it matters: The NotPetya malware was devastating internationally, costing the shipping giant Maersk $300 million dollars alone. It spread so quickly because it was attached to an update for widely used Ukrainian accounting software. This type of attack, where malware is placed in software before it is downloaded from the manufacturer, is known as a supply chain attack and are particularly tough for users to defend against.

By the numbers: According to Symantec's new Internet Security Threat Report, there was an average of three reported supply chain attacks attacks per year from 2013 through 2015. There were 10 in 2017, up from three in 2015 and four in 2016.

Larger in scope: While past supply chain attacks focused on niche software, like the software used in industrial machinery, 2017 saw two gigantic attacks. NotPetya was one, while a second targeted the popular CCleaner file cleaning software.

A siege of nations: Supply chain attacks are difficult to pull off and frequently the domain of nations and other highly-adept groups. "It certainly takes a level of sophistication - not common cyber criminals," said Haley. The White House believes NotPetya was launched by the Russian Government, while many researchers believe CCleaner was a product of China.

Go deeper

Exclusive: GOP Leader McCarthy asks to meet with Biden about the border

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy at CPAC. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has requested a meeting with President Biden to discuss the rising numbers of unaccompanied migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border, in a letter sent on Friday.

Why it matters: Biden is facing criticism from the right and the left as agency actions and media reports reveal spiking numbers of migrant children overwhelming parts of the U.S. immigration system. Recent data shows an average of 321 kids being referred to migrant shelters each day, as Axios reported.

Vaccine hesitancy drops, but with partisan divide

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

69% of the public intends to get a COVID vaccine or already has, up significantly from 60% in November, according to a report out Friday from the Pew Research Center.

Yes, but: The issue has become even more partisan, with 56% of Republicans who say they want or have already received a coronavirus vaccine compared to 83% of Democrats.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

China's 5-year plan is hazy on climate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

China's highly anticipated 5-year plan revealed on Friday provides little new information about its climate initiatives, leaving plenty to discuss in multinational meetings this year and lots of blanks for China to fill in later.

Driving the news: The top-line targets for 2025, per state media, aim to lower energy intensity by 13.5% and carbon emissions intensity by 18% — that is, measures of energy use and emissions relative to economic output.