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Ransomware Cyberattacks On the Rise – Why Cybersecurity Protection Is Non-Negotiable

A dude either conducting a cyberattack or protecting against one

For many years, experts and systems analysts have been warning companies and infrastructures of the need for cybersecurity protection. The number of ransomware cyberattacks has been progressively increasing year after year. In recent months, this has become readily apparent. Not only have recent attacks cause panic buying in some instances. Cybersecurity breaches have also put consumer information at risk and negatively affected public relations of some businesses. And based on all predictions, these trends are likely to escalate even further in the coming years.

Ransomware cyberattacks are problematic in many regards. While it may seem that preventing such attacks might be relatively straightforward, they are anything but. In addition, breaches in a company’s cybersecurity protection are costly in many aspects. This not only includes significant financial risk when business systems are held hostage. It also includes cost regarding reputation, services, and general public trust. For both modern businesses today as well as governments, having a cyber security protection plan is essential. No longer is this a luxury but an absolute necessity for any company with a computer presence.

“We’ve been warning about this overtly for more than eight years and a lot more quietly for longer, but now that its manifested, the silver lining is that we’re not starting ice cold.”- Joshua Corman, Chief Strategist for Healthcare and COVID, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency COVID Task Force

The Basic Nature of Ransomware Cyberattacks

As the name implies, ransomware attacks essentially breach cybersecurity systems and hold specific information hostage. Hackers gain access to such systems typically through phishing emails. These emails attempt to elicit access and passwords of unsuspecting users so that hackers may gain access to protected data. Once accessed, they then hold companies hostage for sizable sums of money in exchange for release of the data. Once the ransom is paid, hackers then provide a decryption key that allows businesses access once again. But as hackers have become more sophisticated, they have moved on from small businesses two major corporations. Most recently, they have also been targeting key infrastructures that can cause significant disruptions.

A computer under some sort of holographic lock
Ransomware cyberattacks are on the rise, and they’re targeting everyone–from businesses to infrastructure.

Many businesses inherently back up their systems and data in case of a cybersecurity attack. As a form of cybersecurity protection, they can then restore their data and avoid paying ransom. However, this type of cybersecurity protection is lacking. In some instances, hackers blackmail such companies, threatening to release private information to the public. Likewise, restoring data often takes a few days to accomplish, resulting in marked disruption of operations. In both cases, ransomware attacks are highly detrimental. And they are also becoming increasingly frequent as recent news stories have revealed.

“Now you’ve got ransomware affecting whole corporate networks, interrupting critical national function, causing disruption in people’s lives. It’s really become a national security, public health and safety threat.” – Michael Daniel, President and CEO, Cyber Threat Alliance

The Financial Impact of Ransomware Cyberattacks

The failure to have adequate cybersecurity protection can cost corporations millions of dollars in some cases. In May of this year, the Colonial Pipeline suffered a major ransomware cyberattack where the company had to pay $4.4 million to hackers. While the government was able to recover $2.3 million, the expense was still noteworthy. Likewise, this is just one of several newsworthy ransomware attacks that have occurred in the last few months. Unfortunately, for every one of these attacks making the headlines, there are roughly 20 to 30 more. In addition, ransomware cyberattacks occur once every few seconds, further highlighting their financial impact.

For those analysts who have been following ransomware attacks, the numbers have been staggering. In general, there has been a 30% year-on-year increase and these cybersecurity protection breaches. In addition, these attacks are expected to cost a total of $265 billion over the next decade. Part of the reason these have increased in number is because of the use of cryptocurrency. Many hackers demand payment in Bitcoin, which facilitates their ability to receive their ransoms. At the same time, especially with the pandemic, companies have dramatically increased their virtual networks and number of access points. (Read more about keeping virtual networks secure in this Bold story.) All of this has incentivized the number of cybersecurity protection breaches overall.

“It feels like these groups realize industrial companies are more ready to pay out and more quick to pay out, because if you impact industrial operations you have to get up and going for safety and community.” – Robert Lee, CEO of Dragos

The Targets Are Getting Bigger

In decades past, ransomware attacks targeted individuals and smaller businesses. This is no longer the case. With advanced strategies and schemes, ransomware attacks are now going after much larger corporations and infrastructures. In addition to the Colonial Pipeline attack, there have been several cybersecurity protection breaches affecting other large companies. For example, the University of Vermont Medical Center suffered such an attack causing them to lose access to their medical records for almost a month. In addition, JBS meat processing plant also suffered a breach in their cybersecurity protection recently. This triggered major concerns about panic buying and a secondary meat supplies shortage.

These trends should be extremely concerning for all of us. To date, such ransomware attacks have yet to succeed another industrial operations and core national infrastructures. However, such attacks might eventually breach cybersecurity protection of these areas. If power companies, water supply systems, or other key services become affected, this could wreak havoc on society. Based on recent escalations, these are notable concerns. They are also the reason why every business should be seeking cybersecurity protection to a fuller extent.

Reaping the Benefits of Cybersecurity Protection

Certainly, the cost advantages of a solid cybersecurity protection plan are obvious. Not only can they save significant dollars in downtime. But they can also reduce insurance costs and minimize the need for cybersecurity forensics. At the same time, they can also build increased consumer trust and improved public relations. This is important for any business, and at the same time, it is also important from a larger social perspective. For these reasons, businesses should no longer view cybersecurity protection as an elective alternative. In order to compete and succeed in today’s world, these services are absolutely essential.


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