The novel coronavirus was not the only contagion to wreak havoc across the world in 2020. There was a similar pandemic prevailing in global cyberspace.
Ransomware attacks, a threat that has been ever-increasing at an alarming rate pre-COVID, exploded ever since the world was forced to shift as many operations as possible to online platforms. Experts predict yearly ransomware attacks to only grow larger with time. The second wave of the ‘cyber pandemic’ is yet to come.
According to Sophos, a cybersecurity company from the UK, in their Threat Report for 2021, the threat actors for ransomware attacks will continue the worldwide onslaught by continually innovating and updating their technology and criminal operations.
Considering the massive spike in the number of ransomware attacks last year, it will not be a surprise for this prediction to come true. The year 2020 witnessed a higher rate of cyber attacks than any year before. Given how we’re still in the pandemic and largely dependent on remote operations, the situation is bound to worsen.
An Alarming Threat
It is safe to assume at this point that if the prevailing circumstances remain unchanged, a breach in the system becomes a question of when, not if! Any measures we may take to curb the risks of being hacked serve simply to prolong the inevitable. That fact alone is an alarming proposition.
Senior cybersecurity strategist at VMware Carbon Black, Greg Foss, stated at an end-of-year webinar that the cyber attacks in the year 2020 alone had risen by 900% since 2019.
The attacks do not just apply to everyday users, offices, or casual web-surfers. Many high-profile organizations and businesses have taken some big hits in recent times.
No-One is Safe, No-One is Spared
Despite taking as many precautions and pre-emptive measures as possible, remote-office spaces have multiplied the number of vulnerable access points tenfold, rendering many big firms and corporations held at ransom for the recovery of their systems and their precious data.
Some examples of high-profile victims of organized cybercrime are:
- Equinix, targeted by Netwalker
- Telecom Argentina, held at ransom for $7.5 million by REvil
- Famous English football club, Manchester United, fell victim to an unknown ransomware strain
- Canon (Japan) attacked by Maza
- Sangoma Technologies (Canada)
- CMA CGM from France (Chinese branch), fell prey to Ragnar Locker
These companies were not the only ones being targeted. Even healthcare and education institutions were not spared in these attacks. Their data was stolen, and their systems were frozen, ceasing all organizational operations.
Resilient Modus Operandi
Many users and organizations had fail-safe plans to counter these attacks by storing backups and encrypting most of their data. Threat actors derived ways to counter these preventative tactics by stealing data before holding organizational systems hostage. That way, even if the victims managed to secure and recover their systems from their backups, the hackers could still threaten them with the data they managed to steal.