“Ransomware” is a buzzword that’s undoubtedly been splashed all across the news in the past two years. The cyberattack gets its name for the financial ransom victims are asked to pay to unlock their system after being infected by malware.
There are few things more frightening for businesses than turning on their computers only to see a message demanding thousands of dollars to access their files and systems. With the rise of ransomware worldwide, it’s more important than ever to understand why these attacks are happening and how to safeguard against them.
Let’s talk about just how much this cyber attack can affect businesses and reveal some of the biggest examples of ransomware to date:
How Exactly Are Ransomware Attacks Rising?
When we say ransomware attacks are rising, there are a few ways to unpack that statement:
1. Quantity and Frequency
Firstly, ransomware attacks are increasing in number and regularity. There were 304.7 million attempted ransomware attacks in the first 6 months of 2021 alone, surpassing the 304.6 million in the entirety of 2020, according to Sonicwall’s Cyber Threat Report.
Cybercriminals are going after “bigger fish,” targeting government entities and companies who have the financial means to offer higher pay-outs to unlock their systems.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the cost of the ransomware attacks reported to the bureau in 2020 amounted to roughly $29.1 million, up more than 200% from just $8.9 million the year before.
Bad actors are breaching companies that store sensitive information for others, knowing that if they are able to get past one company’s security measures, they can access the private data of many.
The rise of supply chain attacks reminds us that cybercriminals are always seeking ways to amplify their reach and increase their pay-outs.
Why Are Ransomware Attacks Becoming More Common?
While there are a number of reasons for the sudden rise in ransomware attacks, here are three of the biggest factors:
1. Ransomware as a Service (RaaS)
Never before has it been easier for amateur hackers to engineer their own ransomware attacks. Groups like REvil are selling out-of-the-box base ransomware code that can be used to devise complex attacks without deep knowledge of coding. The hacking community is uniting to make a profit beyond the ransoms, selling RaaS for consistent income.
2. Businesses Will Pay Out
Because cybercriminals are targeting essential government entities and businesses, they know that the cost of downtime is often significantly more than the ransom fee they demand. In order to get systems up and running again, the victims of a ransomware attack will often eat the unlocking cost in hopes they’ll be able to recover the money later when the attack can be further investigated by the authorities.
"Some 80% of businesses that choose to pay to regain access to their encrypted systems experience a subsequent ransomware attack, amongst which 46% believe it to be caused by the same attackers,” according to ZDNet.
3. Locked Up Back-Ups
To combat the rise of ransomware attacks, many organizations are creating back-ups of their important files and systems to be able to operate should their original copies be compromised. While this sounds like a good cybersecurity practice, cybercriminals are all-too-aware this is happening, so they’re getting better at finding and encrypting the back-ups before they launch their attacks — making it impossible for the company to deny payment.
Examples of Recent Ransomware Attacks
We can learn powerful lessons from those who have been the victims of ransomware attacks. Read our stories about the most recent breaches to instantly improve your cybersecurity today:
Protecting Your Organization Against Ransomware Attacks
There’s no one single way to protect yourself against the risk of a ransomware attack, however, there are a few ways you can instantly increase your defenses.
Download our free eBook, 5-1/2 Easy Steps to Avoid Cyber Threats, to discover five impactful ways you can bolster your security measures today.