Some commentators have been swift to blame the NHS for failing to invest in technology that could have prevented the attack. Although the NHS does not appear to have been specifically targeted by whoever is behind the WannaCry ransomware, it was vulnerable to attack because some of its Windows operating systems are more than 15 years old and were no longer updated or supported by Microsoft.
Ransomware, in its most basic form, is self-explanatory. Data is captured, encrypted, and held for ransom until a fee is paid. The two most common forms of ransomware delivery are through email and websites.
Although ransomware has been around in some form or another for decades--the first known attack is believed to have occurred in 1989--it has more recently become the modus operandi of cyber criminals across the globe. Ransomware has been continuously evolving in the past decade, in part due to advances in cryptography. The wide availability of advanced encryption algorithms including RSA and AES ciphers made ransomware more robust. While estimates vary, the number of ransomware attacks continues to rise. The Verizon 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report estimates that (pre WannaCry) ransomware attacks around the world grew by 50 percent in the last year. Symantec, in a separate report, estimated that the average amount paid by victims had risen to $1,077.
The single most effective deterrent to ransomware is to regularly back up and then verify your system. More recent ransomware attacks have not only encrypted data files but also Windows system restore points and shadow copies, which could be used to partially restore data after a ransomware attack. Backups should be stored on a separate system that cannot be accessed from a network and updated regularly to ensure that a system can be effectively restored after an attack.
While it is impossible to completely block ransomware at its two most common points of entry (i.e. email and websites), steps can be taken at the system-level that will reduce (but not completely eliminate) ransomware attacks. First and foremost, it is important to note that current anti-malware products should be able to detect and block ransomware at the file and process level before data can be compromised. A well-designed anti-malware product should also be able to scan email attachments and downloads for malicious content. I emphasize should in these statements because ransomware evolves so rapidly that it is not a guarantee that even up-to-date anti-malware products will detect the latest strains.
Data breaches through ransomware can affect anyone. While ransomware groups typically target organisations as more lucrative targets, around 3700 individuals fell victim to successful ransomware attacks in 2021. This amounted to $49.2 million being stolen from internet users throughout the year.
When all is said and done, global ransomware attacks cost individuals and businesses $5 billion last yearan increase of 400 percent from 2016. There is every reason to suspect this growth trend will continue.
The number of ransomware attacks against government agencies, organizations in the healthcare, energy sectors, and education continues to rise. While some simple ransomware may lock the system in a way that is not difficult for a knowledgeable person to reverse, more advanced malware exploits a technique called crypto-viral extortion.
WannaCry targets computers using Microsoft Windows as an operating system. It encrypts data and demands payment of a ransom in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin for its return. According to the estimates, the WannaCry ransomware attack hit around 230.000 computers globally, causing $4 billion in losses all over the world.
The 2019 data show that phishing scams were the most common cause of ransomware infection globally during the last year. More than 67% of MSP users reported ransomware attacks caused by spam and phishing emails. According to PreciseSecurity.com research, spam messages made 55 % of global email traffic during the last year, which explains the prevalence of this cause.
With a 36% share in the combined number of ransomware attacks during 2019, the lack of cybersecurity training was the second most common cause. Weak passwords led to another 30% of hacks. Poor user practices caused one-quarter of all ransomware attacks. Other ordinary reasons included malicious websites and clickbait.
WannaCry is a ransomware cryptoworm cyber attack that targets computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system. It was initially released on 12 May 2017. The ransomware encrypted data and demanded ransom of $300 to $600, paid in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. WannaCry is also known as WannaCrypt, WCry, Wana Decrypt0r 2.0, WanaCrypt0r 2.0 and Wanna Decryptor.
The COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to the recent surge in ransomware. As organizations rapidly pivoted to remote work, gaps were created in their cyber defenses. Cybercriminals have exploited these vulnerabilities to deliver ransomware, resulting in a surge of ransomware attacks. In Q3 2020, ransomware attacks increased by 50% compared to the first half of that year.
On May 7, 2021, America's largest "refined products" pipeline went offline after a hacking group called Darkside infiltrated it with ransomware. Colonial Pipeline covers over 5,500 miles and transports more than 100 million gallons of fuel daily. The impact of the attack was significant: In the days that followed, the average price of a gallon of gas in the US increased to more than $3 for the first time in seven years as drivers rushed to the pumps.
Although threat actors have employed new means for identifying victims, their overall methods of gaining unauthorized access to systems and deploying ransomware remain generally the same. Phishing emails and vulnerability exploitation (e.g., exploiting unpatched operating system or application vulnerabilities) continue to be the most common attack vectors.
Contingency Plan (45 C.F.R. §164.308(a)(7)). An effective and robust contingency plan is essential to recover from a ransomware attack. Proper implementation of this provision will allow an organization to continue to operate critical services during an emergency and recover ePHI. Because patient health and safety may be impacted, tolerance of system downtime is low and ePHI availability requirements are high. A covered entity or business associate must backup ePHI and ensure that it is accessible and recoverable in the event of a ransomware attack. Organizations should keep in mind that threat actors have recently been actively targeting backup systems and backup data to prevent recovery. Maintaining recoverable, secure, and up-to-date backups is one of the most important safeguards against ransomware attacks.
Hackers exploit security weaknesses and hold the data of organizations and governments hostage, demanding hefty ransom amounts like Garmin paid $10 million in 2020. Ransomware is a present danger to companies in 2021. Below we outline 5 of the biggest and most frightful ransomware attacks in history.
In May 2017, Companies across the world were attacked by a fast-spreading piece of malware known as WannaCry. This ransomware infected 7000 computers in the first hour and 110000 distinct IP addresses in two days, making WannaCry one of the most notoriously destructive ransomware attacks of all time. Various entities in different industries lost control over their industrial processes, including car giants Renault and Honda.
SamSam ransomware was first detected in late 2015, but it made a strong start in 2018, hitting meticulously selected organizations. Unlike most of the famous ransomware attacks, SamSam was used against particular entities, these most likely to pay to get their data back, such as hospitals and educational institutions.
The following year, it was Cerber that became the most dominant form of ransomware, accounting for 90% of ransomware attacks on Windows in April 2017. One of the reasons Cerber became so popular was the way it was distributed as 'ransomware-as-a-service', allowing users without technical know-how to conduct attacks in exchange for some of the profits going back to the original authors.
ANALYSIS Five years ago today (May 12), a ransomware attack blamed on a North Korean hacking group hit computers running Microsoft Windows, encrypting data and demanding ransom payments in bitcoin.
The big issue is that these attacks are wildly successful in at least the disruption and destruction phases (most victims of publicly disclosed ransomware attacks do not pay or at least do not admit to paying the ransom demands). You can investigate this yourself by a lightweight search on DataBreaches.net. In most of these incidents, it was apparent that:
Ransom prices vary depending on the ransomware variant and the price or exchange rates of digital currencies. Thanks to the perceived anonymity offered by cryptocurrencies, ransomware operators commonly specify ransom payments in bitcoin. Recent ransomware variants have also listed alternative payment options such as iTunes and Amazon gift cards. It should be noted, however, that paying the ransom does not guarantee that users will get the decryption key or unlock tool required to regain access to the infected system or hostaged files.
Earlier cryptoransomware types targeted .doc, .xls, .jpg, .zip, .pdf, and other commonly used files to encrypt them. Cybercriminals have since included a number of other file types that are critical to businesses, like database files, website files, SQL files, tax-related files, CAD files, and virtual desktop files.
After the shift to cryptoransomware, extortion malware has continued to evolve, adding features such as countdown timers, ransom amounts that increase over time, and infection routines that enable them to spread across networks and servers. Threat actors continue experimenting with new features, such as offering alternative payment platforms to make ransom payments easier, routines that threaten to cause potentially crippling damage to non-paying victims, or new distribution methods, all of which are part of what makes a modern ransomware attack. 2b1af7f3a8