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Why Are Ransomware Attacks Increasing?

Why Are Ransomware Attacks Increasing In The US And How To Fight Them

The US is among countries with the largest population embracing technology and has most of its operations relying on sturdy IT infrastructure. This provides adequate room for growth while enabling businesses and organizations to become more efficient. Other crucial benefits of a reliable IT infrastructure include better learning techniques, time-saving, promoting resource utilization, and enhancing communication means.

However, an IT infrastructure faces numerous threats despite being the key driver in facilitating operations and promoting advancements in tech. Ransomware is among the top cyber threats threatening hundreds of industries in the US. Besides, ransomware attacks have had a steep upward trend with a year-over-year increase of 139%. So, what makes the US experience an increasing number of ransomware attacks?

In this post, we’ll highlight crucial factors promoting the increase in ransomware attacks in the US. But first, let’s discuss what ransomware is all about.

What Exactly Is Ransomware?

In a nutshell, ransomware is a class of malware or malicious software that encrypts a victim’s file or prevents users from accessing their systems. Once the attack has been executed, attackers will demand a ransom to restore encrypted files or allow the user to access the system upon payment. To ensure they remain anonymous, cybercriminals usually provide instructions on making payments before sending a decryption key.

Ransomware can access computers in different ways. The most common form is phishing, where a victim is sent an email that contains malicious software. Once opened, it launches an attack that either ‘freezes’ the victim’s computer or encrypts targeted files. Other ransomware attacks include NotPetya, Jigsaw, Cerber, WannaCry, CryptoLocker, and GoldenEye. Although most attacks target large organizations, some hackers may target individuals capable of paying a ransom.

Factors Resulting in Current Acceleration in Frequency and Scope of Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware has become increasingly serious, with attackers becoming bolder in launching hundreds of attacks within a short timeframe. For instance, an incident at Miami-based IT firm Kaseya led to over 200 businesses being hit by a ransomware attack in a single day. Here are some factors causing an increase in ransomware attacks in the US.

Cyber Failures by Victims

Most businesses, organizations, and individuals make it too easy for cybercriminals to access their systems and execute an attack. Leaving systems vulnerable to attacks increases the chances of ransomware. For instance, clicking on suspicious links sent by suspicious email or failing to keep software and systems updated exposes victims to attacks. Most companies fail to execute effective cybersecurity practices, allowing attackers to access systems easily.

A good example is a recent attack on the largest fuel pipeline company, Colonial Pipeline, where hackers accessed the system using an out-of-use VPN profile. The company had to pay a ransom amounting to $4.4 million to recover its data. In 2017, Brownsburg Public Library in Indiana faced a similar scenario where hackers accessed their system through a card catalog open to the general public. The library paid a total of $1,300 through Bitcoin to regain access to the systems.

Ransomware Has Become More Lucrative

Colonial Pipeline, JBS Foods, Brenntag, Acer, and other leading organizations are the latest victims to pay ransoms running to hundreds of millions of dollars to hackers. JBS Foods paid a total of $11 million, while Colonial Pipeline restored its data after paying $4.4 million. All these payments were paid through cryptocurrency, which makes it challenging to track and recover these funds.

In addition, hackers access sensitive information and threaten to publish the information if victims fail to pay. These scenarios have made ransomware attacks more lucrative, encouraging hackers to target more people and organizations and demand huge ransoms. For this reason, it is difficult to stop ransomware, leading to an increase in attacks in the US.

Ransomware-as-a-Service

In definition, ransomware-as-a-service is a subscription-based model, allowing cybercriminals to share existing ransomware tools and software to execute attacks. After a victim pays a ransom, affiliates will distribute the ransom based on an agreeable percentage. This means criminal groups can sell or lease their ransomware software to other groups to launch an attack. It is the same way DarkSide, a group linked to the Colonial Pipeline hack, works.

The Russian Factor

According to US officials and cybersecurity researchers, most US ransomware attacks originate from Russia and countries in Eastern Europe. Besides, most of these attacks are encouraged by weak regulations of state-backed data operations governing overseas hacks. Another issue of concern is that these countries may recruit hackers to carry out hacks for specific objectives. To address this issue, US President Joe Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and came up with measures to stop overseas attacks targeting leading US organizations.

How Individuals and Companies Can Protect Against Ransomware

  • Invest in cybersecurity awareness: Create awareness regarding ransomware attacks, especially educating business managers and business leaders about best practices that protect against cybersecurity attacks. This helps lower attacks, mainly on highly targeted organizations in the US.
  • Keep systems and software up-to-date: Running up-to-date systems and programs ensures the IT infrastructure is equipped with the latest security features to help prevent cyberattacks, more specifically ransomware attacks.
  • Incorporate MFA in all accounts: Although creating strong passwords helps keep tabs secure, having an additional security layer helps keep crucial data more secure. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) prevents unauthorized access to critical business accounts, minimizing chances of attacks.
  • Implement security patches: Primarily, hackers and any hacking attempts exploit vulnerabilities, focusing on third-party apps and plug-ins. Patching applications ensures hackers cannot penetrate systems and access critical files or install malicious software in IT systems.
  • Backup data daily and correctly: Backing up data regularly helps keep it safe even in the event of an attack. If hackers get hold of the information and encrypt it, organizations can use backed-up data to facilitate affected operations.
  • Install an antivirus firewall: Although it can be intricate to choose a proper firewall, it offers superb security against ransomware. It is important to train employees on appropriate IT security when using an antivirus to ensure maximum efficiency.

Stay Ahead with Advanced Protection Against Ransomware

At OneSource Technology, we understand the value of keeping your systems and data safe against ransomware attacks. We can help you understand and integrate the best security protocols and adopt practices to stay safe, allowing you to help lower ransomware attacks in the US. For more information about protecting your systems against ransomware, contact us to learn more today!


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