Ransomware In 2020
Ask any cybersecurity expert to name one threat they dread most; a majority of them will tell you it’s ransomware. And reasonably so, ransomware has tremendously aggravated over the years, affecting organizations of all sizes and industries. And it’s only getting worse.
According to a report by cybersecurity firm SonicWall, there were more than 199.7 million ransomware incidents globally in the third quarter of 2020, signifying a 40% increment. This, coupled with the fact that ransomware demand is on a continuous upward trajectory, shows you just how much cybercriminals are increasingly using this method.
Outsource IT Solutions Group is the leading Managed IT service provider in Chicago. Our goal is to provide local businesses with cost-effective, dependable, trustworthy, and secure IT solutions.
Today, we delve into some of the ransomware incidents that hit the headlines in 2020 and lessons you can draw from them to keep your business safer this year.
What Is Ransomware?
You must have heard the term ransomware, even if you don’t know what exactly it means. As the name suggests, it’s a form of cyberattack where bad actors infect your systems with malware that encrypts your files. They then demand a ransom fee to give you back control of your data. Traditionally, the attackers are supposed to send you a decryption code once you’ve paid the agreed amount. But, this is not always the case; they may continue to frustrate you into paying more money or even sell your credentials in the darknet.
The First Fatality Due To A Ransomware Attack Happened In 2020: The first known human death caused by a ransomware attack occurred in 2020. The tragic incident happened on September 10th. Cybercriminals encrypted more than 30 Düsseldorf University Hospital’s internal servers, forcing the institution to stall all of its operations, including the emergency wing. As a result, the hospital had to transfer a critically ill woman to another 19 miles away facility. Unfortunately, she passed before they got there.
What Are Some of the Biggest Ransom Payouts in 2020? Ransomware demands have been steadily increasing over the past few years, and 2020 was not any different. Here’s a list of some of the notable ransom payouts:
- Ransomware Attack on Garmin: On July 23rd, 2020, Garmin experienced a worldwide service outage due to a WastedLocker ransomware attack. It took the company four days of total shut-down to find a solution. Although the executives did not make a formal announcement, employees revealed that Garmin parted with $10 million for the decryption key.
- CWT Global Ransomware Attack: When Ragnar Locker cybercriminals hacked and shut down 30,000 computers belonging to CWT Global, the U.S. travel services company paid $4.5 million as ransom. According to an anonymous chat-room (detailing the negotiations) that was open to the public, the attackers initially demanded $10 million. In return, CWT offered $4.5 million, citing the adverse effects of COVID-19 on their operations.
- Travelex $2.3 Million Ransom: Hackers group Sodinokibi encrypted Travelex’s files and data on New Year’s Eve, crippling the London-based foreign currency exchange company. Although Travelex took just a few weeks to solve the issue, they waited until April to announce their $2.3 million ransom payment.
Why Ransomware Is Here To Stay: Given ransomware attacks’ high success rates, we can only expect that cybercriminals will increase their activities around this attack vector. Several reputable publications are already predicting that ransomware will be more prevalent and severe in 2021 than it was last year.
The onus, therefore, is on business executives and IT leaders to plan ahead of the attackers. Look at all possible ransomware attack scenarios and prepare to tackle each of them on a case by case basis.
How Can You Protect Your Chicago Business From Ransomware?
A typical ransomware attack originates from either a malicious email or a compromised site, or both. So, your remedial measures should concentrate on these two areas:
- Deploy Email Spam Filters to alert your users of emails from unknown sources that may be malware-infected.
- Use DNS Filters to block devices connected to the company’s network from accessing threat sites.
- Beware of Unsolicited Emails, especially those claiming to educate on COVID-19. Before clicking a link, hover the cursor over it to confirm the sender’s details.
- Regularly Train Your Staff on Ransomware Detection and Prevention: Most ransomware schemes exploit employee vulnerability to gain entrance into corporate networks. Research shows that proper training reduces such attacks sevenfold.
Should You Pay Ransom?
The argument has always been that paying up encourages the attackers to launch more onslaughts. Some states are even considering declaring paying ransom illegal. However, some scenarios leave you with no option but to pay. Even then, it should be a last resort.
Why wait until you’re faced with paying up or losing your data? Let Outsource IT Solutions Group help you protect your systems with our tested and proven techniques. For over two decades now, Chicago and Naperville area businesses have been trusting us to protect them from ransomware and other cyberattacks.