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The onward march of ransomware: What should businesses do?

The business word is now seeing a two-tier supply chain with developers building and selling ransomware malware and other cybercriminals.

Image: © AFP
Image: © AFP

Ransomware was largely a sleeping giant until awakened by the disruptions of 2021. While the first recorded ransomware attack was back in 1989 (according to ZDNet), the approach has been waiting for companies to be producing and storing more business-critical data than ever before (especially in the cloud), plus the increased tendency with more companies appearing willing to pay out to ransom demands.

As a result, the rate at which ransomware has matured as a business model over the course of 2021 is significant. For example, in just the first six months of 2021, there was $590 million in suspicious activity related to ransomware. That exceeds the entire amount of $416 million observed in all of 2020. Not only this, but ransomware has evolved into a division of labor.

The business word is now seeing a two-tier supply chain with developers building and selling ransomware malware and other cybercriminals who buy these “ransomware as a service” kits and carry out the attacks.

Ransomware attacks are also proving lucrative to hackers, with the average ransomware payment in the first half of 2021 standing at a record $570,000.

To help companies prepare for the continued surge that are set to emerge across 2022, Simon Jelley, ransomware expert at Veritas Technologies has prepared some ransomware learnings for Digital Journal readers.

Ransomware is a legitimate illegitimate business

The rate at which ransomware matured as a business model over the course of 2021 is astonishing. Today, ransomware has all the earmarks of a successful, albeit unlawful, industry: growth, profits and innovation.

Ransomware gangs are awfully good at what they do

Cybercriminals behind ransomware are smarter and more innovative than ever, now using two-stage extortion schemes and leveraging the latest developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Ransomware is no minor crisis

Governments are beginning to take the ransomware threat extremely seriously, and companies are following suit as they look for ways to protect themselves from attack.

Ransomware protection is conspicuously absent from cloud service providers’ terms and conditions

Far too many companies think their cloud service provider is responsible for the protection of their cloud-based data against threats like ransomware, and don’t learn the truth until it’s too late.

Ransomware resiliency capabilities are clear as mud

Ransomware is the marketing soup du jour, which is making knowing how to actually defend against it and which partners are the right partners to help you do that more confusing than ever.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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