According to Verizon, more people are being hacked than ever.
The company’s new data breach investigation report (DBIR) says that ransomware is flourishing among malware-related attacks, making up 71 percent of data breaches. This represents a sharp increase from last year and has caught the attention of the folks at Verizon.
Verizon: Ransomware Thrives Among Malware-Related Attacks
Compared to last year’s report, ransomware attacks are up 50 percent, with Verizon believing that the true number of ransomware cases likely even surpasses the amount they’ve reported. This is due to the fact that Verizon suspects the true number of ransomware attacks and victims is likely going under-reported
The DBIR is an analysis of incidences or attempted breaches, including a noted 1,935 successful attacks. According to the report, of the sectors of the economy that were targeted, cyber-criminals attacked manufacturing, the public sector, education, and healthcare the most.
Of those industries, healthcare seems to have gotten the brunt of these attacks. Ransomware attacks in the healthcare industry have increased, with many instances of the malware inflicting damage last year.
Two prominent examples were the Locky ransomware attacks against the hospital chain, MedStar, and SamSam Ransomware attacks that brought down two California hospitals. One of these hospitals, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, was forced to pay a $17,000 bitcoin ransom for the decryption key for patient data.
Furthermore, according to Verizon, cybercriminals are adapting to changing conditions, with ransomware evolving to become more effective blackmail tools for hackers. They now focus more on high-value data, taking their time rather than immediately encrypting the first files they come across.
A Brief History of Ransomware
The idea of using public key cryptography for ransom attacks was first introduced by computer scientists and cryptographers Adam L. Young and Moti Yung in 1996. However, it wasn’t until 2005 that extortionate ransomware became prominent among hackers.
Then, for a period of time, ransomware sort of fell off the map as a cyber threat. That is, until its recent return to prominence in 2013 with the rise of Cryptolocker, which leveraged bitcoin as a relatively anonymous way to collect ransom money.
The use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have, in a way, fueled the return of ransomware because it has made it easier to carry out these kinds of attacks. Other developers have since mimicked Cryptolocker’s design, one of these copycats being Cryptolocker 2.0.
Since its reemergence, ransomware has exploded in popularity — especially between 2015 and 2016. One study by Infoblox found that ransomware increased 3,500 percent from the fourth quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016.The danger that ransomware now poses caused security firm, Kaspersky, to call ransomware the biggest cybersecurity threat today.
In fact, its popularity even resulted in a ransomware app making it into the Google Play store in January 2017.
Anonymous monetization has been key to its success and, combined with anonymity services like Tor — has made cybercriminals employing ransomware nearly impossible to track down.
What do you think of Verizon’s report and their subsequent findings? Let’s hear your thoughts.
Images via Kaspersky and Verizon