Ransomware has become one of the biggest perils haunting the web. According to The Coveware Quarterly Ransomware Report, not only are ransomware attackers going after larger companies, the average ransomware payment has risen to $233,817 – a 31% increase from this time last year.
Key Take-way from the Report
“The biggest change over the past 6 quarters is threat actors now realize that their tactics [can] scale to much larger enterprises without much of an increase in their own operating costs. The profit margins are extremely high and the risk [of getting caught] is low.”
A Growing Threat
It’s not only companies that are being hurt by ransomware, municipalities, hospitals and schools are increasingly the targets of this extortion method. Consequently, whole communities are burdened by the loss or interruption of vital services. Often, taxpayers must pick up the tab for data recovery, security consultants, and massive updates to equipment and software that will better protect computer systems and networks against future attacks.
The cost of these measures can run into the millions of dollars. Some of the costs can be picked up by insurance companies, but cyber security provisions can be invalidated or decremented if the victim has not acted responsibly to protect their IT infrastructure, especially after failing to take corrective action spelled out in a previous security audit.
Ransomware incidents have been growing unchecked, and this economically destructive cyber crime has increasingly led to dangerous, physical consequences. It is clear that ransomware has become too large a threat for any one entity to address alone.
To develop a unified response, the newly formed Ransomware Task Force – a group of 19 security firms, tech companies and non-profits which include Microsoft and McAfee – has announced its plan to form a coalition to deal with this rising threat.
The RTF will commission expert papers on the topic, engage stakeholders across industries, identify gaps in current solutions, and then work on a common roadmap to address ransomware issues. The group’s goal is the creation of a standardized framework for dealing with ransomware attacks across all market segments that will be based on proven strategies and industry consensus rather than on individual random advice offered by lone contractors.
An RTF website will debut in January 2021 to expand membership and ransomware awareness, with ongoing ransomware guidance from the RTF expected to start in April.
Nathan Muller is the author of 29 technical books and over 3,000 articles that have appeared in 75 publications worldwide. He also writes articles, blogs and social media content for tech companies and their executives.