Ransomware payments increased 78% last year

Ransomware cases hit a record at the end of last year, with a 78% increase in the average payment given by companies to criminals and a 144% increase in the amounts requested by them. It is a cycle that feeds back, based on the threats of leaking files and releasing encrypted data, which continues to make this one of the most profitable categories of cybercrime.

According to a survey by Unit 42, the digital protection research arm of Palo Alto Networks, the average requirement after a ransomware attack was around US$ 2.2 million (about R$ 10.5 million at the current price) in 2021. The average payment made by the companies was US$ 541 thousand (approximately R$ 2.6 million), with the professional and legal segments, construction, wholesale and retail, health and manufacturing being the five that most settled amounts with the criminals.

As the wheel continues to spin, with more victims and opportunities for payment, so does the interest of the crooks. According to the survey, 35 new ransomware gangs emerged throughout 2021, while recognizable and menacing names remained at the top. One in five attacks analyzed by Unit 42 were by the Conti group, with REvil in second place and 7.1% of the occurrences; Hello Kitty and Phobos complete the ranking, with 4.8% each.

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Ransom demands by criminals more than doubled in 2021, with growth in payments also showing that ransomware remains a highly profitable cybercrime (Image: Disclosure/Unit 42)

As the pressure increases, so does the number of confidential data leaks. According to Palo Alto Networks, total incidents of this type increased by 85% last year, with 2,566,000 organizations affected; most victims are in the Americas, with 60% of cases, followed by 31% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with 9% in Asia and the Pacific.

How to prepare for ransomware attacks in 2022

Cyber ​​hygiene measures are experts’ top recommendation in light of the growing threat landscape this year. Strengthening the protection of connected systems and incident response plans are ways to increase resilience and recoverability, as well as preparing everyone involved in the event of an attack.

Network monitoring, account protection measures and enforcement of best work practices also help to reduce the possibility of attacks and increase infrastructure complexity. Unit 42 recommends the adoption of Zero Trust strategies and identification of the most sensitive elements, which should receive greater attention, as ways to make systems more resistant to ransomware.

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