2019 was the year of the ransomware attack. Cybercriminals launched over 151.9 million attacks. They affected businesses, health care systems, governments, and individuals around the world. Ransomware hacks in the US alone cost over $7.5 billion in damages in 2019.
Security analysts predict for things to get worse. Read on the learn about five major ransomware breaches from the last twelve months. There are crucial lessons all businesses need to learn from.
What is a Ransomware Attack?
Ransomware is a type of malware that cybercriminals use to extort money from victims. Ransomware attacks often involve locking users out of essential data until they pay a ransom. Depending on the target, it can be as little as $75 or up to millions. And even when victims agree to pay, there are no guarantees criminals will provide tools to unlock their files.
Now there’s also a growing trend of two-stage ransomware. First, criminals block access to the files and ask for ransom. Then, after receiving payment, they threaten to release information to the public unless they are paid again.
Here are the most significant recent ransomware attacks:
1) New Bedford, Massachusetts: July 2019
In July 2019, threat actors targeted the small city of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Using the Ryuk Virus, they encrypted data on laptops, servers, and workstations in the town. The hackers initially demanded $5.3 million. The city countered with $400,000, but the criminals rejected it.
Fortunately, New Bedford had suitable backups and lost no critical systems. It prevented the ransomware from spreading too far. But even this smaller example of a more prepared city cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix.
2) New Orleans: December 2019
New Orleans had to declare an emergency in December 2019 after an employee clicked on a phishing email. Within no time, the Ryuk Virus affected about 10% of servers and laptops in the city.
Oddly enough, no hackers have yet to come forward to claim responsibility for the attack. It suggests the aim was to harm the economy of the city. So far, the city has spent $7 million in repairing the damages.
3) Norsk Hydro: March 2019
This one happened almost a year ago, but its scale shows how dangerous ransomware attacks can be. In March 2019, threat actors struck the major aluminum provider Norsk Hydro. The attack started in US-based facilities before spreading to locations in Europe.
Authorities couldn’t stabilize the situation until summer. Eventually, responders determined the ransomware strain to be LockerGoga. It targets industrial and manufacturing spaces.
Unlike other ransomware cases, Norsk Hydro did have digital backups. But they had to switch to using manual operations for billing and reporting, costing them millions. The total cost of the attack has now reached $75 million.
4) Demant: September 2019
Demant holds the unfortunate title of being the biggest ransomware victims of 2019. The critical evidence forced the company to shut down all its IT infrastructure and caused havoc across its global locations. They had disruptions in France, Denmark, Mexico, and across their Asia-Pacific operations.
For weeks, they were unable to supply their products, process orders, and service end-users. The total cost of this attack has exceeded over $95 million in damages.
5) US Maritime Base: December 2019
The first reported ransomware attack of 2020 was on an unspecified US Coast Guard Base. This breach interrupted door-access systems, cameras, and other critical systems at the site.
Although the base was functional in 30 hours, it shows the lurking potential of ransomware infecting just about any location.
Ransomware can cause millions of dollars in damage. If your company doesn’t have expensive ransomware insurance, it could force your company to go bankrupt. There are still so many costs on top of them, including downtime and reputational damage.
All organizations need to secure data while using encryption software. Be sure to encrypt all servers and devices. Use the best encryption software for Windows and Mac to prevent any unauthorized parties from seeing the contents of your files. And always have a backup.
Moreover, educate employees about the latest digital hygiene principles. The New Orleans attack is an excellent example of this. The workers there could have recognized the suspicious link and reported it before clicking on it. Instead, the city has to grapple with millions in damages.
Finally, stay informed about the latest technology news. If you’re aware of the current ransomware threats, you’ll not only know how to avoid them but what to do if you suspect your systems to be infected.
Don’t let ransomware take down your business. Learn from these recent examples and start protecting your company now.