A new COVID-19 side effect: Ransomware attacks are up 109%

Tactics are becoming even more vicious and remote work has only increased the number of target points.

A hooded man holding a phone. Ransomware attack.
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“Ransomware is malicious software that infects your computer and displays messages demanding a fee to be paid in order for your system to work again.”

Kaspersky Labs

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Better, faster, stronger

Since a rise to prominence last year, ransomware has only gotten stronger and is being fueled by a rise in remote work and shift to online operations.

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In the U.S., ransomware used to extort victims is up by 109% year-over-year.


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Among the targets are high-profile companies like Garmin whose online services recently ground to a halt for four days after the company was infected with ransomware.

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An unprecedented number of people working from home and businesses transitioning their operations online have greatly increased the number of potential access points for hackers.

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Phishing is still hackers' first choice

The bulk of infections are still coming through malicious links sent via email. Many of those scams have attempted to use COVID-19 to their advantage by convincing users they're in receipt of important information, usually from a government agency.

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As a result of remote work, malware targeting IoT devices is up by 50 percent year-over-year.



"Double extortion"

Experts say that hackers are now using "double extortion" methods that exfiltrate a victim's data before demanding a ransom. That data is then published online as a means of coercing victims into paying up.

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“It's a double-whammy... at the end of the day, ransomware in this particular form can become extremely dangerous.”

Mark Ostrowski, Check Point Security

Without proper safeguards, experts say there's still room for ransomware to continue growing.

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“With the amount of potential victims out there that are perhaps clicking on things out of emotion I don’t see a decrease around the corner.”

Mark Ostrowski, Check Point Security


How to protect yourself against ransomware:

- Use antivirus software

- Don't click on suspicious links

- Keep your software up to date

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