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Ransom ranked as top motive behind cyber-attacks

24th January 2017

Most of us are looking to move on and forget what happened in 2016 for many different reasons. However, something that cannot be ignored was the explosive rise in cyber-attacks throughout the year. An incredible 56% of organisations worldwide reported being a victim of a cyber-ransom attack in 2016 according to Radware’s Global Application and Network Security Report 2016-2017.

The report found that 41% of organisations currently rank ransom as the greatest cyber threat, this figure has increased from 25% in 2015. The most recent ransom cyber-attack has targeted 700 computers of 16 libraries in St Louis, Missouri, USA. Hackers are demanding $35,000 (£28,000) worth of bitcoin, however, authorities have refused to pay the ransom and instead are wiping all their computer systems and rebuilding them from scratch, an extreme option that could take weeks. Although just one recent example, it illustrates the damage that can be inflicted from such an attack and will be particularly concerning for businesses of all sizes. Very few organisations can afford to lose all their data and rebuild from scratch.
Cryptoware (encrypting ransomware) has risen to prominence during the last few years due to the increased popularity of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin twinned with its brute force ability to grind productivity to a complete halt. Criminals have realised that ransomware is an extremely profitable type of attack, one that has a huge ROI. It often takes minimal effort or time to encrypt vulnerable data with malware which renders the system unusable until the user complies with the demands for a ransom. It’s ugly but effective.
Ransomware has already gone beyond PCs and moved to target smartphones, Mac and Linux systems. Android and Apple mobile devices have seen increases in ransomware activity and with transportation systems becoming more automated it could present an even larger challenge. A recent ransomware attack exposed the San Francisco, U.S. transport system hitting the city’s light rail system which hackers demanded 100 bitcoin equating to roughly $70,000. As more and more industries embrace automation, cyber security will become a major talking point amongst businesses. 
In 2017, we can expect to see more focused attacks on high-profile targets and public services including healthcare as it has a high level of vulnerability and it would be imperative to restore the systems affected. The constant risk of cyber-attacks have become a way of life for so many organisations the world over and it will continue to place them under pressure in the coming years. Hiring the right InfoSec professionals is more important now than it has ever been.       
You can download the full Radware report here


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