And Why The Threat Is Greater Than Ever.
Ransomware is the most common form of malware in today’s threat landscape, with over 184 million attacks causing 205,000 businesses to lose access to their data in 2019. Large companies aren’t the only target– small businesses account for 20% of ransomware attacks. This is largely a result of the mass proliferation of hacking tools available on the dark web, an untraceable corner of the internet that can only be accessed with a specialized browser that features unusual domain names such as .onion, rather than the more common .com, .org, and .net.
Part of the problem is self-inflicted, as a number of sophisticated network penetration tools and exploits targeting Microsoft, Juniper, and Cisco technologies were leaked right out of the NSA’s offensive cyberwarfare toolkit. Now, ransomware is a cottage industry, and the appearance of ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) has allowed attackers with significantly less technical acumen to pose a persistent and pervasive threat to organizations across the globe. Over the past decade, the world has been accosted by a litany of nasty strains, with some of the most damaging being:
The cost of a ransomware attack far exceeds the ransom demand. The estimated damages above include the time cost of disruption which is upwards of 15 days on average and clean-up that can take months, leading to a lot of lost revenue. In the worst cases, these attacks affect global supply chain companies, international banks, and large-scale industrial operations where this downtime is a cost that compounds exponentially.
Recent attacks have become more targeted, with fewer attempts and much higher ransom demands. For example, a particularly troublesome strain of Ransomware, known as Ryuk, typically demands between $100,000 and $500,000 and only targets high-value enterprise environments. This is in stark contrast to earlier strains that employed a spray-and-pray strategy with demands in the few hundreds of dollars.
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