Cyber security is a critical global need. Today, ransomware cyber-attacks have escalated to a staggering 1.2 million per month. The information comes from the fourth annual report by Barracuda Networks, a prominent cybersecurity company, which compiles incidents between August last year and July this year.
Ransomware-based cyber assaults are, as the word 'ransom' suggests, a type of crime that involves introducing malware, or malicious software, into other people's systems, preventing users from accessing their data until they agree to pay the attacker.
The modus operandi of the malefactors who resort to this type of digital extortion consists of introducing the malicious programme into the victim's device, which then encrypts the operating system files, so that the legitimate user cannot access their own information. A ransom is then demanded.
The biggest spike in the overall increase in attacks of this type occurred between January and June 2022, coinciding with the start of open hostilities between Russia and Ukraine.
The hackers' targets could not be more sensitive. The five sectors most affected by ransomware were education (15% of attacks), health (12%), infrastructure (8%) and finance (6%).
Extortions to the health and financial sectors tripled during the period studied by the report, while assaults on systems related to critical infrastructure increased fourfold. There has also been a notable increase in cybercriminal activity targeting automotive, hospitality, media, retail, software and technology companies.
The authors of the study underline that incidents in these five production segments are increasing with each passing year, and stress the vital importance of investing in cyber security to put all possible barriers in place against the criminal groups behind the phenomenon.
These crimes are difficult to investigate, as victims are often reluctant to reveal that they have been extorted. On the other hand, a tendency has been detected to impose 'fines', i.e. to increase the amount demanded, on those individuals or organisations that do not immediately give in to blackmail.