According to a report by the Cyber Threat Alliance, the number of ransomware attacks increased by 350% in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. This trend has continued into 2021, with the number of attacks remaining high.
Ransomware attacks are not only on the rise, but they are also becoming more sophisticated. Many ransomware groups now use double extortion tactics, in which they not only encrypt a victim's files but also steal sensitive data and threaten to release it publicly unless the ransom is paid. This makes it even more difficult for victims to ignore the ransom demand, as non-payment could result in the loss of valuable data and reputational damage.
The healthcare industry is particularly vulnerable to ransomware attacks. In 2020, the healthcare industry accounted for nearly 30% of all ransomware attacks, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The COVID-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse, as healthcare organizations have had to rapidly shift to remote work and online services, creating new vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers.
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are also at a high risk of ransomware attacks. According to a report by Datto, SMBs are targeted in 43% of all ransomware attacks. These businesses often have fewer resources to devote to cybersecurity and may be less likely to have robust backup and recovery systems in place.
The financial impact of ransomware attacks can be significant. According to a report by the Cyber Threat Alliance, the average ransom demand in 2020 was $111,605, up from $84,116 in 2019. Many organizations have no choice but to pay the ransom in order to regain access to their files, but even then, there is no guarantee that the attackers will actually provide the decryption key.
There are steps that individuals and organizations can take to protect themselves from ransomware attacks, such as keeping software and systems up-to-date, using antivirus and anti-malware software, and regularly backing up important files. It is also important to be aware of the most common methods used to deliver ransomware, such as phishing emails and exploit kits, and to be vigilant in recognizing and avoiding these threats.
To summarize, ransomware is a serious and growing threat, with the number of attacks on the rise and new tactics being developed by attackers. The healthcare industry and SMBs are particularly vulnerable, and the financial impact of an attack can be significant. Individuals and organizations must take steps to protect themselves, including keeping software and systems up-to-date, using antivirus and anti-malware software, and regularly backing up important files. It's important to be aware of the most common methods used to deliver ransomware and be vigilant to avoid these threats.