Over the past few years, ransomware has become one of the most dangerous means of cyber attack worldwide. Lately, as the technique evolves, the attacks are becoming more directed towards the lucrative industries like healthcare, education, critical infrastructure, education, government, small businesses, etc.
Hackers have found out that unlike the attacks against ordinary people which can be quite easy, chasing bigger institutions is much more challenging. A study released by the phishing defense company PhishLabs, shows that the phishing volume increased by about 33% across the above-mentioned five industries.
Nowadays, phishing is the most used technique to get into people’s computers, encrypt files and hold them ransom. By only making a user click on the wrong link and downloading a file can put their entire organization in peril.
The malware locks all the users’ files and makes the victims pay for a decryption key. Usually, after paying the ransom the key is received, but sometimes, cyber criminals just leave the files encrypted and never respond. However, the worst option is when the data gets destroyed no matter if the victims pay the ransom or not.
“Ransomware allows attackers to effectively utilize one configuration for all targeted users. It also allows for instant monetization – there are no credentials to sell, no fraudulent transactions to initiate, and no further social engineering is required,” the report states.
Despite having a high infection rate, the ransomware has a low rate of success. This is due to the fact that depending on the malware used, victims can find free decryption keys online.
Most often, ransom payments are demanded in Bitcoin in order to keep up the anonymity shroud in place. This often makes attackers impossible to trace.
Considering all the above-mentioned, it’s no wonder that ransomware has made a move towards larger industries and businesses, but it’s even more disturbing.
Every day, the records of thousands upon thousands of people are at risk, as well as critical files, which makes the situation that much more complicated. For example, a hospital paid to get back their EMRs, X-Ray, and CT scans, while one hotel admitted to paying ransoms several times in order to unlock their room doors which used keycards.
According to PhishLabs, the future does not look much brighter as a large percentage of ransomware targets use Windows, although other platforms have also become targets lately.
The security experts claim that the best way to fight the ransomware attacks is to be vigilant. Don’t follow the links you receive via email or texts from unknown contacts and don’t open any suspicious files. Also, be extra careful when it comes to your sensitive data and keep your PC protected against malware at all times.