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Four Times the Ransomware

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So far in 2016 has been a continuous onslaught of ransomware. In the first quarter of this year alone there has been quadruple the number of attacks from the same time period last year.

In January alone, Symantec Security Response were called in to deal with 4,000 attacks a day, a 300% increase over the year before. Since early march, for brand new strains have popped up (BrLock, MM Locker, CryptFile2, ROI Locker) with well over 25 new variations being discovered in total.

This spike in attacks has everything to do with how profitable and how little risk there is for criminal organizations located in other parts of the world. After Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles paid $17,000 to hackers who had encrypted their files, it was clear that not only were organizations not prepared to deal with ransomware, but that things were going to get worse. Consequently, there was an immediate increase in attacks on businesses and hospitals.

The main issue now, aside from the sheer scope in number of attacks, is that with their success, more people are trying to get into the ransomware business. Rather than a handful of criminal organizations running the attacks, there are new hackers attempting to make a name for themselves. The attacks are generally becoming more sophisticated with new extortion techniques, new build platforms, new attack vectors, etc. How the ransomware is deployed has even changed with it lying in wait on a system for at least a week so if someone attempts to go back to a restore point the malware is still there.

The best way to prepare for a ransomware attack is to develop robust backup and data recovery policies with those backups being stored offline, especially in the health and finance industries. Secondly, businesses and organizations need to train their employees to be able to recognize social engineering attacks and phishing emails. It’s also a good idea for everyone to be running the latest version of their operating system and that their anti-malware software is up to date. Finally, every organization should have their email gateways scan and block any malicious code it comes across. Don’t download anything from an email address you don’t recognize and be wary unexpected emails from well-known brands with attachments.

In order to better protect yourself from being taken advantage of by ransomware, download the free Ransom Protection Checklist or sign up to receive it by mail. If you find that you might be at risk, schedule a free 10 minute Ransomware Safety Review.