Home » anti ransomware software » Why Has Ransomware Become An Enduring Threat?

“All we know is Money. Hurry up! Tik-tok, Tik tok, Tik-tok!”

This is an excerpt from a frightening ransom note received by IT officials of Baltimore from hackers who managed to lock up the majority of the city’s servers in May 2019. An amount of $76,000, paid in Bitcoin, was demanded for getting the decryption key. Baltimore refused to pay up- opting instead to absorb almost $18 million in costs of recovery.

This high-profile attack simply indicates the full scope of how destructive and pervasive ransomware has become- targeting individuals, companies, and poorly protected agencies and organizations. Ransomware attacks are on the rise, and organizations in all places require a game plan to protect themselves. The main tool is anti-ransomware software.

Ransomware removal tool

What is a ransomware attack?

Ransomware is a kind of cyber-attack in which someone encrypts the files of a victim by using malware. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim for restoring access to the data once it is paid.

Ransomware can happen to both individuals and businesses. With regard to either case, ransomware attacks can disable IT (Information Technology) totally till a ransom is paid. On the serious side, such attacks can compromise the life of patients in the case of healthcare organizations.

Plundering and probing

Ransomware is highly flexible and resilient. The core attraction of this process for criminals is that it is about as direct a challenge to garner cash illicitly as dreamed by any common man without needing any middlemen.

At a high level, ransomware is basically an open platform that operates on market principles, around which a thriving eco-system of specialists and suppliers has assumed shape.

This has thrown open doors for novice operators even with modest skills to enter this field, providing them easy and cheap access to powerful turnkey services and tools. At the same time, advanced hacking collectives press forward with innovative techniques.

The total result is the continuation of proven styles of ransomware attacks and continual probing for vulnerable pockets and plundering them through new pathways.

As per the FBI, the absolute number of ransomware attacks dipped in early 2019. But this was due to the rising attacks on companies and government agencies in place of attacks on individuals. As proved by the attack on Baltimore, municipalities are the hottest targets currently.

Ransomware software

Recorded future reported that from 38 attacks against cities in 2017, the figures rose to 53 attacks in 2018 and nearly 22 attacks in the first 4 months of 2019. This shift has caught the attention of municipalities across the US that 225 mayors attending a conference in July 2019, signed a resolution never to pay ransom to hackers.

Issue of capitulation 

But ransomware is not a simple issue. Take the case of Riviera Beach in Florida. In June, the burgh of 35,000 residents paid a ransom of 42 Bitcoins or $460,000 for gaining a decryption key. Following weeks of disruption of city services and facing the pressure of citizens, city leaders considered paying a 6 -figure ransom as the fastest and least painful solution.

Such dilemmas are faced not only by cities. Individuals and SMB’s (Small and Medium Businesses) continue to be targeted by ransomware attacks. Many are reaching the conclusion that capitulation is the best option.

A poll of IT professionals in the UK, Germany, Canada, and the US by Osterman Research found that nearly 40% of ransomware victims opted to pay up. A survey of 1000 consumers and 600 business leaders in the US by IBM found that 70% of businesses attacked by ransomware have paid ransom to regain access to systems and data, while 55% of parents were willing to pay ransom for regaining access to family photos.

How common are attacks?

Ransomware is becoming common partly because malicious agencies are exploiting companies being distracted by the immense disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. As per Microsoft, hackers began campaigns focused on the virus soon after the WHO declared a global health crisis in February 2020. 

Microsoft found that related attacks spiked by 11-fold. Between April and May 2020, attacks clocked figures like 20,000 to 30,000 per day, only in the US.

The spike in ransomware attacks is part of an even larger attack on the security of corporates. As per the FBI, ever since the hitting of the Covid-19 pandemic, criminals have become more active, causing a 300% rise in cybercrimes compared to the same period the previous year. In 2021, ransomware attacks against businesses have occurred, 1 every 11 seconds. Organizations have paid an average ransom of nearly $250,000, clocking a total of $20 billion.

Recent examples

Cognizant reported that it expects to lose between $50 million to $70 

  • Million following a ransomware attack.
  • Mattel, the leading toymaker, reported major ransomware attacks which disrupted its operations.
  • In Germany, the first case of a fatality caused by ransomware attacks was reported when a leading hospital had to turn away emergency patients when its computer systems crashed.
  • The agencies most vulnerable to ransomware attacks in the US belong to the healthcare industry. US hospitals have been warned against such attacks.

The clear picture

Businesses can learn much from this surge in ransomware attacks:

  • Cyber-attacks are rising because the pandemic is making more agencies vulnerable. Cyber criminals responsible for such malicious actions exploit the fact that businesses are distracted during the pandemic.
  • Cyber criminals are often getting what they want.
  • Ransomware attacks are crippling and life-threatening (healthcare).

Such attacks can be combatted by protective measures like ransomware removal tools. 

Ransomware Software

The new reality 

With Covid-19, lockdowns have caused companies to enable virtual workers and work-from-home arrangements overnight. This rapid change and lack of planning have resulted in compromises in security for maintaining continuity of business. Threats to mobile phone operating systems are on the rise. Such tactics present a totally new type of threat for mobiles that traditional anti-ransomware tools cannot handle.

In sum, the expectation for the near future is that there will be more attacks involving not only ransomware but also data breaches which will damage employee productivity, organizational systems, and goodwill of companies.

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