For the fifth year in a row, the number of ransomware cyber attacks directed towards public US organizations and institutions continued to climb.

The report indicated that 113 governments and agencies, 764 health-care providers, and up to 1,233 individual schools in the US were affected by ransomware in 2019. Click To Tweet It was estimated that the potential cost of damages rose to over $7.5 billion.

One suspected cause for the successful targeting of public agencies and entities is under-secured systems. An October 2019 report from the state auditor of Mississippi cites a “disregard for cybersecurity in state government” with recent research from the University of Maryland concluding that “most American local governments do a poor job practicing cybersecurity.”

Traditional public sector systems are not the only ones vulnerable to ransomware attacks. A cyber attack on a US coast guard facility paralyzed base cameras, access systems, and critical monitoring systems for over 30 hours. An employee clicked an embedded malicious link, allowing the hacker to access and then encrypt network files.

As the threat and cost of ransomware attacks continue to grow, organizations will have to remain vigilant as they head into the new year and the new decade. Click To Tweet

To read more about the high cost of ransomware on US systems in 2019, check out the article by the MIT Technology Review.