Who Is Most Affected by Ransomware?
Currently, ransomware is currently one of the most prevalent threats in the cybersecurity sphere, and it looks different for every business. Some businesses in certain sectors face higher levels of risk. This risk might be associated with factors like the nature of the company’s data or how much it’s willing to pay to keep operations moving.
Let’s explore what ransomware means for different companies and what you can do to protect your business from it.
What Is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a kind of malware that spreads throughout the network, accessing resources wherever possible. A typical ransomware attack encrypts the resources, making them unusable until the company pays a ransom. Some ransomware could lock the system, but more advanced ransomware can exfiltrate essential data. The attacker may threaten to sell or leak the information if the ransom isn’t paid.
One of the most common entry routes for ransomware is social engineering, such as phishing attacks. A user might inadvertently download ransomware or release their credentials, allowing a hacker to install it directly. Ransomware is easy for hackers to come by with the rise of ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS). Hackers can pay for access to a platform to launch ransomware attacks.
Ransomware is both common and effective. By 2031, it’s estimated that a new ransomware attack will occur every two seconds and will cost victims over $265 billion.
Major Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware affects large and small businesses alike and has been the cause of major data breaches across the country. Some big companies that have been hit by ransomware attacks include:
- Colonial Pipeline: One of the most newsworthy ransomware stories in 2021 involved Colonial Pipeline. The hack disrupted this national infrastructure, impacting gasoline delivery across the United States East Coast. Colonial Pipeline eventually paid the ransom of $4.4 million in Bitcoin. Fortunately, law enforcement recovered much of the ransom, but this isn’t the norm.
- Nokia: SAC Wireless is a subsidiary of Nokia and experienced a data breach in June 2021. Those behind the ransomware were from an RaaS group called Conti, which gained access to SAC Wireless’ network and employees’ personal information. Conti claimed to have stolen over 250 gigabytes of data and threatened to release it if SAC Wireless didn’t pay the ransom.
- Brenntag: The North American division of Brenntag, a German chemical distributor, paid out a ransom to the DarkSide, the same group that hit Colonial Pipeline. The hackers initially requested about $7.5 million worth of Bitcoin, but negotiations brought the final value to $4.4 million.
Industries Affected by Ransomware
Some industries are more susceptible to ransomware than others. Below are some of those who get affected by ransomware the most, according to the number of ransomware attacks worldwide in 2021.
One of the top targets of ransomware attacks is the government sector. Phishing is a massive problem for the public sector. It makes up almost all social engineering attacks, responsible for nearly 70% of all breaches in the industry. Hackers often steal credentials through phishing strategies and use them to inject ransomware.
Since the public sector deals with many critical operations and personal health information, ransomware can be particularly damaging. Budget-strained governments may also struggle with the financial effects of ransomware.
Next on the list of sectors affected by ransomware attacks is higher education. Educational facilities also maintain personally identifiable information (PII), which can hurt student safety and the school’s reputation if released. This personal data is the top target for educational facilities. Like governments, ransomware can strain schools with limited budgets.
Healthcare faces costlier data breaches than any other industry, but ransomware in healthcare has concerning effects that extend far beyond the hospital’s budget. In one survey, healthcare IT and IT security professionals said that ransomware had several adverse effects on patient health and operational limitations:
- About 70% of respondents said it resulted in longer stays and delayed procedures and tests that resulted in poor outcomes.
- Nearly two-thirds of respondents said it increased the number of patients transferred or diverted to other facilities.
- Just over one-third of respondents said it increased complications from medical procedures.
Other factors affected by ransomware include the facility’s reputation and compliance with regulations.
4. Information Technology
Despite being in the trenches of technical solutions, the IT sector is another industry affected by ransomware.
These businesses have their reputation at stake, along with the continued operations of their clients. An IT company could work for many other industries, and ransomware can bring operations to a halt.
The costs of ransomware in IT are also high — technology has the fourth-highest average cost of a data breach.
The manufacturing industry has been shifting heavily to more connected digital solutions. Still, without the right precautions, the solutions can put them at risk for ransomware. In addition to the usual financial effects of a data breach, ransomware can also cause significant losses through downtime. If machinery can no longer operate, the foundation of a manufacturing business is at risk.
Ransomware is one of the most common cyberthreats facing the manufacturing industry. It makes up about one-third of threats in data breach incidents for the sector.
How to Prevent a Ransomware Attack
For most businesses, it isn’t a question of if, but when ransomware will hit. Fortunately, you can take steps to reduce the chances of ransomware reaching your business:
- Implement robust identity access management solutions (IAM): A strong IAM solution allows you to authenticate users and better control who gains access to which resources. The OptimalCloud, for example, delivers solutions targeted to the needs of each industry with best-practice features like single sign-on (SSO) and multifactor authentication (MFA). If a user falls victim to a phishing attempt, IAM adds more barriers to entry, keeping hackers out and mitigating threats while granting access to modern resources.
- Train staff members: Make sure your team knows what a phishing email and potential ransomware looks like and abides by a strict company policy.
- Update your systems: Update hardware and software across the board to ensure any vulnerabilities are patched. You can prevent hackers from finding a backdoor and injecting ransomware into your system.
- Back up your data: If you have a data backup on-hand, hackers lose their leverage. Resuming operations can happen as quickly as you can restore the information. Create backups regularly and keep them secure in a separate location.
Preventing Ransomware With the OptimalCloud
Customers across industries turn to the OptimalCloud to ward off ransomware. This comprehensive solution has a wide range of dependable IAM tools, all backed by our 24/7 support team and 99.9% uptime. Our cloud-based platform allows easy access to the modern resources that keep your business moving while delivering authorized access and monitoring services to prevent ransomware attacks.