Jun 17–Cyber security researchers report a 93% increase in ransomware attacks year-over-year, with a 41% increase since January, alone. The largest spikes in ransomware attacks this year have been seen in Latin America and Europe, with 62% and 59% increases, respectively.
Check Point Research experts believe that the ransomware attack trend has yet to reach its zenith. Thus far this year, major breaches have included:
- A US Department of Energy subcontractor ransomware hack
- The Colonial Pipeline Co. ransomware hack
- JBS Foods ransomware hack
- A ransomware attack directed towards Apple
- CNA Financial’s ransomware attack
And more. In a recent statement by the UK’s Head of Government Communications Headquarters, “Ransomware hackers are now a bigger cyber threat to UK than hostile states.”
The number of organizations affected by ransomware in the beginning of 2020 vs. in the beginning of 2021 has increased by 102%, according to researchers.
Why the ransomware attacks now?
Threat actors have set their sights on ransomware for a variety of reasons.
- An ever-growing number of ransomware gangs are creating “affiliation” programs that enable lone hackers or less-experienced persons to easily deploy ransomware.
- Regular ransomware attacks, and double extortion are no longer enough to guarantee payment. Hackers are determined to increase their financial gains with new and innovative approaches.
Serious international focus on ransomware
US President Joe Biden and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin have recently concluded a series of meetings, which included discussions around how to curb ransomware gang activity.
“This is an issue that has been starving for political attention for a long time,” says Chris Painter, a former senior US official.
On the international stage, ransomware is now perceived as a significant and serious security threat. All over the world, nations want to coordinate and present a unified response.
Former head of the National Cyber Security Centre in the UK, Ciaran Martin, expects that countries may collaborate on issues from cryptocurrency to general ransomware prevention best practice guidelines.
Experts state that international partnerships are vital in disrupting ransomware groups’ networks. “This is a global challenge and we cannot do this alone,” says Lindy Cameron, current chief executive of the British National Cyber Security Centre.
March 2021 negotiations
Earlier this year, in March, all UN countries supported the notion of respecting cyber norms, including a statement saying that nations should not knowingly permit cyber attacks that are “internationally harmful” to manifest or continue.
“It’s crucial that governments agree to cooperate on investigating cybercrimes,” says Estonia’s ambassador at-large for cyber diplomacy, Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar.
How you can prevent ransomware attacks
- Ensure that your organization maintains robust data backups. In the event of a ransomware attack, you will then be able to restore data with minimal downtime.
- Patching regularly is critical. As many know, at the time of the infamous WannaCry attack in 2017, a patch existed for the exploited vulnerability. However, many organizations delayed implementation, leading to more than 200,000 computer infections within a three day window. Regular patching can reduce exploit options for hackers.
- Anti-ransomware protections can help. While anti-ransomware solutions can’t combat every ransomware type, they can identify anamalous network activities and alert admins about suspicious behaviors that are associated with ransomware.
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