Online ransomware has grown by two times in 2021

According to Check Point Research (CPR), 102% more corporations faced ransomware attacks during the first half of 2021 compared to 2020. What is the difference between a usual hacker attack and ransomware? In the second case, criminals intrude into a system, encrypt the valuable information, and demand payment in exchange for decryption. 

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According to studies in this field, the increase in ransomware is remarkable. For example, since April 2021, ransomware intrusions have taken place in 1,000 companies weekly, while in 2020 this metric was no more than 600 cased. Moreover, specialists don’t expect this number will be lower anytime soon. They predict the number of occurrences will rise by 100% by the end of this year. 

It’s likely that hackers will develop more forward-looking and advanced methods to steal data and financial assets. Essentially, if businesses aren’t mindful of this trend by educating their staff and evolving cybersecurity measures, the data leakage will be tremendous. 

What can be the reason for such a shift of ransomware this year? Most companies’ workers nowadays work remotely, and their devices are not secure. Moreover, they might ignore software updates designed to exclude common vulnerabilities. COVID-19-related phishing is also contributing to ransomware in 2021. 

The level of ransomware these days is much higher than specialists could predict at the end of 2020. As a result, this type of harmful attack has become the primary threat for both enterprises and the state. The Ransomware-as-a-Service model is what helps hackers to improve their business. According to this model, a criminal sells or rents the malware to associates so that they can compromise the target network and exploit its weaknesses more effectively. 

ESET data addresses a double boost in the number of episodes concerning ransomware viruses this year. It’s suggested that this technique of stealing data is becoming more widely used because ransom is an easy way of monetization for criminals.

What countries and industries are under threat? 

increase in ransomware

Healthcare is the sector suffering the most from this group of attacks, at around 109 cases weekly per company. The utility niche is the second most hacked sector scoring 34 intrusions. 

If we look at the numbers around the globe, India undergoes a greater number of ransomware attacks (203 a week per organization). Argentina (104 cases), Chile (103), France (61), and Taiwan (50) are included in the five most threatened countries. 

Also, based on the evidence, ransomware is more focused on small and medium enterprises rather than corporations. The issue is that large businesses can afford more experienced staff responsible for cybersecurity. However, in small and big companies, the capacity is limited, and the owners often ignore the need for protection. 

Usually, cybercriminals don’t pay attention to the niche a business is working in – they are hunting for bigger payouts. But, based on the report, companies in the industrial and retail areas are attacked more frequently. 

New ransom styles

The CPR also pointed out more forward-looking ransomware techniques. Recently, criminals have applied a double-pressure method. What does it mean? Hackers do not just aim to steal data but also threaten to reveal secret information. 

Recently, researchers have reported so-called triple extortion. In this case, the hackers not only extort money from the organization they breached, but also from the individuals implicated in the stolen data.

By the way, hackers are getting more creative this year, inventing new ways to steal data. Explore how criminals utilize cookies for attacks.

One of the recent examples took place in Finland in October 2020 when a huge psychotherapy clinic was attacked. Hackers blackmailed both the clinic and its patients – they wanted to expose all the secret materials. In February 2021, one hackers’ group attempted a new style of pressure. The double-stage ransomware attack was supplemented with DDoS intrusions, combined with phone calls to the company’s business partners and the press. 


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