According to the latest reports, ransomware attacks have become increasingly common. Cybersecurity firm Cyberint recently published an analysis of the number of ransomware-related cyberattacks they saw throughout their visibility, which revealed an astounding number of attacks targeted towards the US.
In 2021, Cyberint saw 2,845 ransomware attacks, with 1,352 of them affecting victims in the United States. The prevalence of ransomware assaults in the United States was so high that it outstripped the next most afflicted country, France, by nearly tenfold.
The United States was the target of nearly 50 percent of all ransomware attacks tracked by Cyberint. Businesses in the industrial, energy industries, retail, and banking were the most vulnerable. The victims included both large- and small-scale businesses. Most of them, however, are well-known to people who follow the news headlines regularly. The Colonial Pipeline, JBS Foods, and Kaseya cyberattacks are all mentioned, as are state-sponsored attacks on US government entities.
“Ransomware attacks rose significantly against businesses and government entities in 2021, a trend likely to carry on to 2022. While organizations are scrambling for more cybersecurity resources, educating your employees about the best cyber defense practices is just as important,” noted Vilius Kardelis of Atlas VPN, which also analyzed Cyberint’s research.
Not every business sector is created equal, which is why the benefits for cybercriminals who target specific industries are more significant than for those who target others. As a result, it is not surprising to pinpoint the most targeted sectors as per ransomware attacks.
The industrial and energy industries were the hardest hit, with 599 ransomware attacks worldwide in 2021. By hacking energy infrastructure, cybercriminals can disrupt normal gas and electricity flow and cause shortages, making them a promising target because victims are more willing to pay up if real life is affected.
In 545 ransomware assaults last year, threat actors primarily targeted organizations in the retail industry. Their line of business’s high-stakes setting makes them an easy target. Ransomware assaults on retailers are sometimes timed to strike when companies are most susceptible, i.e., during the Black Friday or Christmas shopping seasons.
According to the data, the finance industry was also the target of 355 ransomware assaults by cybercriminals last year. The advantages for cybercriminals are obvious: financial institutions are perceived as wealthy, making them viable targets with huge reward chances. Even if the victims refuse to pay the ransom, the information gathered can often be sold for a profit – or used to break into bank accounts and steal money.
The healthcare industry has largely avoided ransomware assaults. While it appears on Cyberint’s list of the top ten most targeted sectors, it is ranked eighth, with 121 attacks in 2021. Hackers generally have minor reservations about who they target, although they tend to avoid hospitals — especially during a pandemic.
The sorts of ransomware strains used in attacks were dominated by two major players in the cybercriminal world: the Conti or LockBit ransomware families. They were used in around 1,000 attacks, which is unsurprising given their widespread distribution and ability to encrypt data and infiltrate computers undetected. The takeaways for 2022 may be self-evident: try to be aware of the threats of ransomware – and do everything you can to prevent them – and for law enforcement, cutting the head off the great beasts of ransomware may be one method of leveling the playing field.