Ransomware attacks: Likely to go “from bad to worse”

Ransomware closes practice, ImageQuest

This year’s trends in ransomware attacks have left IT Security researchers worried about what’s coming in 2020.

Dark Reading cites “growing collaboration between threat groups on ransomware campaigns; the use of more sophisticated evasion mechanisms; elaborate multi-phase attacks involving reconnaissance and network scoping; and human-guided automated attack techniques.”

Hackers also have developed ways to research a large organization before locking it up with ransomware. This research improves their profitability as ransom demands are tailored to what their research shows the victim can pay. Victims who refuse to pay now are finding some of their data on public sites, as hackers blackmail them into paying – or see all their data exposed publicly.

The problem, notes Emisoft in a blog post, is that attackers have learned that ransomware is very profitable, thanks to local governments relying on insurance payments to cover ransomware demands.

However, paying ransom does NOT guarantee your data will be restored. Telemarketing firm The Heritage Company shut down this month – possibly for good – after revealing the owner paid the ransom but the firm’s IT team could not restore from the decryptor key the crooks provided. The closure caught the firm’s 300 employees by surprise right before Christmas.

Also scary is the exposure that large organizations with valuable data, such as local governments and school districts, have because of a lack of investment in cyber protection. While researchers note this is typically due to budget constraints and mission-focused priorities, there is tremendous concern that ransomware attacks will bring more U.S. organizations to a halt in 2020.

The scariest part of all this is it takes only one employee clicking on one bad link or one bad attachment to open the door to a nightmare. Hackers are becoming extremely proficient at crafting messages that drive victims to make mistakes.

We constantly assess security measures and upgrade our offerings to better protect our clients against these attacks. But at the same time – basic measures can go a long way.

If you haven’t been giving your team IT Security Training, you need to start now. Everyone should be using a password manager and multi-factor authentication as well.

Your systems need to be current, with the latest updates and patches installed.

But most of all, you need to think about your business records – and what would happen if you were locked out from accessing them. The risk of that happening looks to be rising in 2020.

We can help you manage and reduce that risk. Talk to us today!

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