History tells that the world’s first ransomware attack occurred just over 30 years ago, in 1989, and targeted the healthcare sector. In 2020, the healthcare sector remains a top target for ransomware attacks. In January alone, 10 ransomware attacks paralyzed the healthcare industry, and by the end of February, 16 more disabled computer systems.
Will the next decade emerge as the decade of ransomware?
- The politics of ransomware attacks. Malicious computer viruses are often disseminated by criminal gangs in certain geographic locales. Authorities in these regions tend to look the other way when it comes to online criminal activity. Arguably, international politicians need to communicate with these authorities and to express that by quietly ignoring criminal gangs, they play a role in perpetuating the ransomware problem.
- Increasing pressure. Ransomware attacks are becoming problematic to the point where international intelligence agencies should intervene. Anti-virus software and ransomware protection software are not enough, and regularly fail in the face of ransomware. Ransomware removal is time consuming and costly. Projects such as the NoMoreRansom project, facilitated by Europol, represent strong starts, but there’s so much more that can be done.
- Ransomware removal. The risk-reward equation can make it appear as though paying a ransomware extortion demand is a better option than losing data. Most businesses, understandably, need their files and computers restored as quickly as possible. However, in paying a ransomware demand, organizations inadvertently strengthen ransomware gangs, and enable them to pursue bigger and more lucrative targets. When it comes to firms trying to resume normal operations, there are alternative ransomware removal strategies.
- Products and patching. Most organizations rely on vendor-produced cyber security products for their computer security. Some argue that vendor-based products are shipped with too many flaws. Others contend that IT admins simply need to install patches as soon as they emerge. There isn’t a single right answer to reducing ransomware attacks, but a combined commitment to improved security is key.
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