The Main Reasons Ransomware Attacks Are on the Rise

The Main Reasons Ransomware Attacks Are on the Rise

The prevalence of ransomware in different industries equates to billions of dollars being lost in remediation efforts. Cybersecurity experts forecast that by 2031, ransomware attacks will cost around $325 billion globally. To zoom this into context, companies that survive ransom cyberattacks might suffer losses exceeding $700,000. The increase in these attacks is alarming and attracting attention from key cybersecurity firms. Even more alarming is that attackers seem to be upgrading themselves at a pace better than cybersecurity teams in companies. Why is there an alarming increase in ransomware attacks?

Relaxed tech standards

Organizations with remote workers and telecommuting have significantly increased over the past two years. Due to the global pandemic, more startups and larger organizations use remote workers from different parts of the world. Although this reduces costs significantly, it also poses a different risk to companies. To achieve higher cost reductions, remote workers are urged to use their personal devices. 

The use of personal devices to connect to organizational networks creates a perfect breach point for ransomware attacks. Non-standardized hardware increases the chances of suffering from a ransomware attack. A ransomware attack could originate from personal files with malware that can permeate cloud-based company cyberinfrastructures. 

Standardizing hardware with strict cybersecurity standards can prevent ransomware attacks. When implementing remote working policies, it is important to hire certified cybersecurity specialists to review the tech standards. Unfortunately, most organizations with relaxed tech standards and policies will continue fueling ransomware attacks globally.

Human element blindspots

Ransomware attacks primarily originate from carefully crafted social engineering tactics using Business Email Compromise and malware mules. Attackers conduct reconnaissance on companies, establishing weak points and acting based on their meticulous research. In most cases, employees, executives, and third-party service providers bear a significant risk of ransomware attacks. 

Employees could unwittingly click on a link with ransomware, allowing social engineering fraudsters to halt business operations. Untrained employees have increased the risk of successful ransomware attacks, and due to this convenience, hackers are prone to attack companies and halt operations. Social engineering focuses more on hacking humans instead of using brute force. 

The encryption standards in effect nowadays make it hard for hackers to attack companies using brute force. Thus, humans are weaker targets, which increases ransomware attacks such as DDoS or ‘leakware.’ To prevent ransomware attacks, training employees and to implement email security tools can play a pivotal role in reaching this objective.

Lack of data recovery policies

Most ransomware attacks count on the fact that a significant amount of companies do not have data recovery policies. In this regard, organizations are forced to pay the ransom to preserve those insights and retrieve them for business operations. 

Companies that store important consumer information, such as insurance firms, need their data sources to keep track of consumer premiums, payout history, and claim reports. Without that information, these firms won’t be able to pay out claims accurately and are at risk of disgruntling customers. On the other hand, e-commerce platforms might lose their backorder data leading to service failure and untimely deliveries. 

All of this data needs to be backed up frequently, but it is surprising to learn that many companies do not have recovery policies. Even if some organizations have data backups, they might not be in real-time, making them an easy target for ransomware attacks.

Anonymous payment methods

Crime is easier and more convenient if you’re aware that you might not get caught. These types of crimes are what law enforcement agencies call crimes of convenience. The current financial landscape allows cybercriminals to demand a warrant without being traced through payment transactions. Over two decades ago, ransomware was not that prevalent because payments were mostly made using wire transfers that could be easily traced. 

Ransomware attackers exploit the advent of anonymous payment methods such as cryptocurrency to perpetuate their criminal behavior. Recent ransomware attackers demanded that bitcoin wallets be used to transfer the ransom. Once the ransom is paid into a crypto wallet, it is lost in an abyss of decentralized servers, making it impossible to track down. 

Although these blockchain-powered payment methods were developed to make global transactions easier, they are being exploited by cybercriminals. Indirectly, anonymous payment methods are fueling ransomware attacks by completely masking perpetrators from law enforcement.

Rapid digital transformation

In the past couple of years, think about the number of new e-commerce platforms that popped up on your radar. For some, new e-commerce platforms have become too numerous to count. At the same time, financial firms are rapidly transforming to digital means of carrying out transactions. 

Community banks are developing banking apps to make payments and online shopping more convenient. Not to mention how other sectors, such as the healthcare industry, have kept up with the rapid digital transformation age. Subsequently, digital correspondence has increased, flooding customer service personnel's inboxes. 

Due to all these developments, it has become easy to slip in a malware mule containing ransomware to an organization’s network. Social engineering attackers can pose as disgruntled customers and add an attachment that employees will download out of curiosity. Upon clicking this file, ransomware can spread across the organization's network and mainframe. 

Limited tech security tools

Having limited tech security tools in an organization’s cybersecurity arsenal contributes to the rise in ransomware attacks. Many small companies and even large companies do not have adequate security coverage to survive a ransomware attack. Although the tools are out there, organizations are making it easy for social engineering attackers. 

Without advanced email security tools, ransomware can easily make it through. Employees will be prone to click on malicious links and attachments, whereas implementing email security tools that conduct a deep scan of all email contents can provide additional coverage to organizations. 

When conducting reconnaissance, social engineering attackers identify these breach points and exploit them for their benefit. Most companies only implement advanced tech security tools after a successful attack. Due to limited tech security tools in an organization’s cybersecurity arsenal, ransomware is increasingly infiltrating various industries.

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