There has been a surge in ransomware extortion attacks over the past year. Now, security researchers are saying that we’ve reached a critical mass for ransomware.
In other words, you’re more at risk for a ransomware attack today than you have ever been in the past.
In years gone by, ransomware targeted individual users. Today, we’ve seen a surge of attacks against organizations, including private companies and government groups.
As a sign of the times, the US Department of Homeland Security and the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre have issued a joint statement, saying,
“Infections can be devastating to an individual or organization, and recovery can be a difficult process that may require the services of a reputable data recovery specialist. Paying the ransom does not guarantee the encrypted files will be released. It only guarantees that the malicious actors receive the victim’s money, and in some cases, their banking information.”
Health Care Organizations Being Increasingly Targeted
MedStar, which is the largest healthcare provider around Washington, D.C., was one of the latest major victims of a ransomware attack.
MedStar recently experienced a ransomware attack that forced it to shut down most of its computer network this past week, causing problems at the company’s 10 hospitals and 200+ outpatient offices across the region.
In this attack, hackers used ransomware to encrypt data on some MedStar computers before demanding a ransom of $18,500 (in BitCoin).
It’s Simple Economics
Security researchers argue that ransomware growth was inevitable: the barriers of entry have never been lower, and the chances of profiting from an attack have never been higher.
Why are the barriers of entry so low? There’s been a surge in ransomware toolkits being sold online, which means anyone with a decent amount of cash (starting at just $100) can buy the tools they need to conduct a ransomware attack.
The Best Defense Against Ransomware is Human Intelligence
Human intelligence is the best defense individuals and organizations have against ransomware attacks.
Some of the easy tips to follow include:
-Stop clicking on links in malicious emails
-Stop clicking on links people send you through social media unless you’re absolutely sure about the destination of the link
-Stop thinking someone on the internet is going to give you anything for free for any reason
Of course, not all ransomware attacks are that easy to stop. Some ransomware attacks are highly targeted against high-net worth individuals or major companies. In these cases, even the best security system and human intelligence may be no match.