Ransomware Attacks: Trends and Most Targeted Industries

With the rise of worldwide ransomware attacks, 2024 is the perfect time to understand why these current cyber threats are happening and how to safeguard against them.

Let’s talk about just how ransomware can affect businesses and why we could expect ransomware attacks in 2024 to increase.

 

How Exactly Are Ransomware Attacks Rising?

1. Quantity and Frequency

Based on evidence from the past years, ransomware threats seem to be increasing in number and regularity, making them one of the most dangerous current cyber attacks to understand. Recent statistics have shown upwards of 155 million ransomware attacks in just one quarter of a year. Those are just the ones that have been reported.

2. Financial Gain

Threat actors seem to be going after “bigger fish” by targeting government entities and companies that have the financial means to offer higher payouts to unlock their systems. 

In fact, the projected average cost of a ransomware attack in 2024 is $42 billion, and while threat actors are going after companies of all sizes, they know the bigger corporations yield a bigger payday.

3. Reach

In recent years, bad actors have been 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.

 

Why Are Ransomware Attacks Becoming More Common?

1. Ransomware as a Service (RaaS)

The past few years have shown us that it has never 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 requiring a deep knowledge of coding. 

Threat actors know they can make a profit beyond the ransoms themselves and sell RaaS for a more consistent, less risky stream of income.

2. Businesses Will Pay Out 

Because threat actors have been targeting essential government entities and businesses, they know that the cost of downtime is often significantly more than the ransom fee they demand. 

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. 

3. Locked-Up Backups 

To combat the rise of ransomware attacks in 2022-2023, many organizations in 2024 are expected to create backups of their important files and systems to be able to operate should their original copies be compromised. 

While this sounds like a good cyber security practice, threat actors are all too aware this is happening, so they’ve been getting better at finding and encrypting backups before they launch their attacks — making it impossible for companies to deny payment. 

 

The Most Targeted Industries of 2024

Over the last few years, certain industries have, time and time again, produced the highest return on time investment for threat actors.

These highly-targeted industries include:

  • Government agencies 
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Small businesses
  • Healthcare institutions
  • Energy/utility companies
  • Higher education facilities
  • Supply chain-structured businesses

Why Have Threat Actors Targeted These Industries In the Past?

They’re Lucrative


In a ransomware attack, the bad actor demands a sum of money to unlock encrypted files or systems. But these types of attacks aren’t easy to strategize and execute. They can take countless hours of open-source intelligence research and digital digging to access the files the threat actors are trying to compromise. 

Threat actors want to make sure they’re getting their money’s worth for their time, so, in the past, they’ve often gone after larger-scale companies who can afford the high-dollar ransoms they demand. 

They Hold Valuable, Sensitive Data


Companies within the top targeted industries often store confidential data about their customer base or proprietary data about their products or services. In fact, in the last few years alone, 2.6 billion personal records have been breached, and 1 in 4 people have had their health records exposed to threat actors.

To these threat actors, data is power. Some of these corporations have not shown evidence of consistently having proper backups in place to recover their information without paying the ransom. Even if they did, they could experience severe financial and reputational repercussions if the data was leaked. 

Bad actors know that attacking a hospital with ransomware, for example, could lead to data leaks of highly confidential information, while attacks on an energy company could result in customers’ home addresses becoming compromised.

Downtime Has Been Much Worse for These Industries


Ransomware attackers in recent history often target more than static data. They aim to compromise entire systems, preventing companies from accessing or using certain technology or specific functionality of said tech. 

Threat actors in past years have leveraged the fact that every minute a business can’t operate, it costs them valuable time, money, and reputation. As a result, the victims have often paid the ransom to unlock their systems, knowing the loss of downtime could be far worse than the fee required to pay the bad actors.

They Have Been Connected to Other High-Priority Targets


Because threat actors want the most return on their time investment, they’ve often gone after industries and companies with connections to others. That’s why ransomware in healthcare, for example, has been so common in recent history. The threat actors know breaching one hospital could lead to access to a handful of other hospitals or associated brands and partners.

They May Have More Vulnerabilities


While some of the industries on the list have strong cyber security defenses, others could use more help. Small businesses, for instance, often don’t have the resources needed to afford full-time cyber security staff, while others don’t understand how to protect themselves. 

Other businesses may have outdated technology, like fax machines or unpatched software, that’s leaving them vulnerable to breach. This is often a problem for those within the higher education sector who don’t have adequate funding to put security first. 

Additionally, some industries simply don’t have formal standards for how to best protect themselves, meaning their security measures are decided independently.

 

Ransomware Attack Protection in Just 5 ½ Steps 

If your business falls into one of these high-risk industries for cyber threats, the time to strengthen your cyber security by getting the best ransomware attack protection is now.

But ransomware isn’t the only way bad actors target businesses. In our 5 ½  Easy Steps to Avoid Cyber Threats, we address several current cyber attacks, including ransomware, to give you actionable advice for improving your security instantly. Download your copy of the ebook today.

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Topics: ransomware attack, ransomware

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