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Malware that attacks a computer’s data by maliciously encrypting it and preventing the user from accessing it until the user first pays a fee is called ransomware.
2021 is looking to be the year of Ransomware as the number of cases tick up on a daily basis. Recent large organizations that have been hit by ransomware include the Colonial Pipeline and JBS meat packing. Many government agencies and infrastructure like the Oldsmar, Florida’s water supply and the Ferry operator in Martha’s Vineyard are other notable recent targets.
Katell Thielemann, Gartner’s vice president analyst for security and risk management, told CNN that “if you’re a ransomware actor, your goal is to inflict as much pain as possible to compel these companies to pay you. This is beyond cybersecurity only, this is now a cyber-physical event where actual, physical-world processes get halted. When you can target companies in those environments, clearly that’s where the most pain is felt because that’s where they make money.”
Cybercrime Magazine estimates that global damage due to ransomware will reach $20 billion this year and that a successful ransomware attack this year will on average hit a business every 11 seconds.
But some good news came yesterday that a newly formed task force by the Justice Department focusing on Ransomware was able to recover roughly $4 million of the money paid by Colonial Pipeline to ransomware hackers last month. The new DOJ group will try to find “innovative uses of legal authorities…to protect victims before they are victimized.”