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How Bad Will Ransomware Attacks Really Get?

It seems everywhere you turn – you hear the word “ransomware” and files being encrypted. ‘Ransomware’ might have been a foreign word in times gone by – but today it is a better known word – thanks, be to the bombardment of such attacks in our lives. ‘Ransomware’is a type of malware that locks the files on your computer and threatens to unlock the files on your system only after you pay the said ransom. In recent times, there have been more ransomware attacks and this is making everybody sit up and take notice.

These are the names of popular ransomware that has been striking our world:

  • Locky(first released in 2016)
  • WannaCry(2017)
  • BadRabbit(2017)
  • Ryuk(2018)
  • Troldesh(2015)

There have been a string of ransomware attacks in the US and other parts of the world. Some of the latest attacks are listed below:

  • On August 17, 2019, 22 organizations in Texas were affected by the REvil or Sodinokibi ransomware attacks and they demanded a ransom of about $2.5 million dollars (US) The REvil or Sodinokibi ransomware was propagated through a third party software. The officials involved however did not pay any amount and managed to recover the files through a well thought out cyber response plan.
  • Wolcott public schools in Connecticut, USA, was subjected to a second ransomware attack on Sept 11th, this year. Hackers had already subjected the Wolcott public schools to a similar ransomware attack in June of 2019. Teachers and students were not able to access their systems and their email and Internet access was also inaccessible.
  • The attackers had initially demanded a ransom of $12,000 for enabling the access but the ransom was not paid then and many systems were still down till the second ransomware attack took place (Wolcott Public Schools go offline once again following a possible second ransomware attack)
  • In June 2019, three Florida towns were subjected to ransomware attacks. Unfortunately in this case, all of the towns paid the ransom to get their data. In the first attack, Riviera beach paid $600,000 in Bitcoin to the attackers to get their assets back. In the second attack in Florida, Lake City paid around $460,000 dollars in ransom to gain access to their data. The Lake City attack was subjected to the Ryuk ransomware.
  • In yet another attack, the Baltimore city government was hit by a ransomware attack in May 2019. The attackers demanded $76,000 in Bitcoins. This attack crippled ATMs, vaccines, airports and hospitals (2017-2019 Ransomware statistics and facts)

While consumers have been hit less by the ransomware attacks, there has been an increase in ransomware attacks against businesses and government organizations in 2019. Dental offices in the US, schools and educational institutions have all suddenly been hit by a slew of ransomware attacks this year. This is partly due to the fact that hackers are certain that they can demand a higher ransom and are guaranteed to get it too!

Future:

How will the future be? Will there be more attacks? Given the extent and frequency of ransomware attacks all over the world, it is a sure bet that they will get more ugly and bad and influence us even more in the coming years. Verticals such as healthcare, educational institutions, government organizations might all be affected.

It is feared that the ransomware attacks could also strike voter databases in the US and might disrupt the 2020 Presidential elections. In view of this the US government is planning to launch a program to protect voter registration databases (US officials fear ransomware attack against 2020 election)

Simple way to stay safe:

Will your organization be next? The simplest way to stay immune to ransomware attacks is not to click on suspicious links and take a back up of all data regularly. If you are subjected to ransomware attack, it is always good to contact law enforcement right away.

What is ‘Ransomware’ and how does it work?

Bibliography

2017-2019 Ransomware statistics and facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from comparitech: https://www.comparitech.com/antivirus/ransomware-statistics/

US officials fear ransomware attack against 2020 election. (n.d.). Retrieved from cnbc.com: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/26/us-officials-fear-ransomware-attack-against-2020-election.html

Wolcott Public Schools go offline once again following a possible second ransomware attack. (n.d.). Retrieved from courant.com: https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-news-wolcott-schools-hacked-computer-systems-20190911-abpqgqwhdzc45p4k36d22k6wce-story.html

 

AUTHOR
Jayanthi Manikandan ( )
Cyber Security Analyst
Jayanthi Manikandan has a Master’s degree in Information systems with a specialization in Information Assurance from Walsh college, Detroit, MI. She is passionate about Information security and has been writing about it for the past 6 years. She is currently ‘Security researcher at InfoSec train.
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