Will Ransomware Get Worse Before It Gets Better?

iQuanti: Ransomware has been a plague for businesses in the past few years, and cybercriminals have continually improved this increasingly prevalent cyberattack by making it more potent and more powerful.

If the trends from 2021 hold steady, ransomware will grow to become an even bigger issue before proper measures are put in place to stop it. 

Ransomware: 2021 in Review

Some of the biggest ransomware attacks to date have happened just in the last year. Attacks on organizations like the Colonial Pipeline, Kia Motors, and even the Washington D.C. police department have caused damage to infrastructure, businesses, and individual lives. Most of these attacks also required that the ransom be paid in cryptocurrency, with payments reaching millions of dollars.

Worse yet, the targets for a ransomware attack have expanded. Hospitals and other healthcare organizations have seen a rise in attacks in the last year. Disruptions to their IT infrastructure can block patients from receiving critical care, connecting these digital ransomware attacks to harmful, real-life consequences beyond the storage of data.

Cryptocurrency and Ransomware

The increased use of cryptocurrency has been giving cybercriminals more ways to leave no paper trail after a ransomware attack. Even as people and organizations learn to protect themselves, the encryption afforded by the use of cryptocurrency means cybercriminals have become increasingly more difficult to track.

Going forward, cryptocurrency's projected growth also incentivizes ransomware attackers, who often use Bitcoin as their method of choice for payment. Since regulations and standard procedures for crimes involving cryptocurrencies are still up in the air, policies surrounding Bitcoin ransoms will take some time before they can enable authorities to investigate and prosecute cybercrime as efficiently as possible.

Covid-19 and Ransomware

The Covid-19 pandemic also made ransomware an even bigger issue going forward. Corporations and individuals are still struggling with the increase in cyberattacks since a large portion of Americans increased their digital usage and activity after 2020. Cybercriminals will also take advantage of disinformation to lure victims into phishing nets and scams.

Cybersecurity experts are still seeking to educate and eliminate the additional threats and crime that have risen since the Covid-19 pandemic. However, since this is an ongoing process, only improved employee awareness and active data archiving will ensure that companies can protect themselves from the surge in ransomware activities.

Ransomware in 2022: What Can Be Done?

Ransomware can't be eliminated entirely yet. But companies can slow it down and back up their data so attacks are increasingly less successful.

Keep your systems updated

One of the most effective ways to prevent systems from being attacked by ransomware is to keep them updated with the latest patches and fixes. Investing in continuous monitoring will help IT professionals identify when any new vulnerabilities crop up and need to be addressed immediately.

Make sure your software is up to date

Many businesses rely on Microsoft Office applications such as Word or Excel; they are widely used and contain vulnerabilities. If malware is able to exploit weaknesses in these programs, then it could lead to a data breach without specific versions of software being patched or upgraded. Protect yourself by keeping these applications up to date as well.

Invest in employee education

It's impossible to predict when security breaches will occur, but if employees are educated with up-to-date security awareness training, then they'll be more likely to understand potential threats and scams to prevent the exfiltration of your data.

Source: iQuanti, Inc.