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Ransomware payments reached new highs

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By Newsvot News - - 5 Mins Read

According to cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks, ransomware payments reached new highs last year, while linked data leaks and ransom demands also increased.

Ransomware groups are increasing the pressure on its victims to ensure that they pay the ransom and are demanding larger ransoms.

The average ransom demand in cases handled by Palo Alto Networks in 2021 grew 144% over 2020, according to their latest Unit 42 Ransomware Threat Report. Multiple extortion strategies like this are a sign of the ransomware threat landscape's future.

The Conti group, which was responsible for almost a quarter of all cases handled by Unit 42 last year, was followed by REvil, HelloKitty, and Phobos.

Conti was also the top leaker of stolen data, with 511 organizations' names published on its dark web site. According to the analysis, this helped to increase posts on name-and-shame sites by 85 percent year over year in 2021.

According to Palo Alto Networks, 35 new ransomware groups formed in 2021, with many of them being rebranded versions of existing entities. Profits are being re-invested in better attack tools and zero-day exploits, according to the report.

The number of victims whose data was uploaded on such sites increased by 85% last year to 2,566 organizations, indicating that leak sites played a significant role in forcing businesses to pay ransom demands. 60% of leak site victims were found in the Americas, 31% in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and 9% in the Asia-Pacific region.

While ransomware attacks continue to wreak havoc on businesses around the world, law enforcement agencies and even tech giants have stepped in to try to put a stop to them.

According to the most recent FBI data, ransomware infiltrated over 600 critical infrastructure businesses last year.

What is ransomware and how does it work?

Over the last few years, malicious malware that exploits encryption to hold data for ransom has grown extremely popular. 

The goal of this malware is to extort money from victims by promising to restore encrypted data if they pay up. It usually gets onto a device by exploiting a security weakness in susceptible software or deceiving someone into installing it, just like other computer viruses. 

Ransomware, as it is now known, has a growing list of high-profile victims, including hospitals, public institutions, and law enforcement agencies.

"Ransomware attacks disrupt everyday activities that people all over the world take for granted – everything from buying groceries to buying gasoline for our cars to calling 911 in an emergency and getting medical care," Jen Miller-Osborn, deputy director, Unit 42 Threat Intelligence, argued.

Once inside your system, the malware looks for and encrypts important data. Everything is at risk, including documents, databases, and photographs. 

The virus can potentially propagate to other systems by exploiting network flaws. It has the potential to expand across entire companies.

For the victim, the attacker creates a one-of-a-kind public-private key pair. On the attacker's server, the private key required to decode the files is kept. The attacker gives the victim the private key when the ransom is paid.

Without access to the secret key, decrypting the files or data held hostage is very difficult.

For cybercriminals, the malicious ransomware business model has proven to be a lucrative industry. For its bad reputation, law enforcement has teamed up with international agencies to uncover and prosecute scammers.

The majority of ransomware attacks in the past have been traced back to workers' weak security practices.

Does Norton protect against ransomware?

Yes, Norton can help protect you against ransomware. 

During independent virus detection tests, Norton 360 managed to quickly detect this kind of threat. The program also lets you backup your sensitive files.

Use trusted antivirus software and a firewall to protect yourself from ransomware.

It's vital to have a strong firewall in place and to maintain your security software up to date. Now with all the fraudulent software out there, it's critical to utilize antivirus software from a reliable vendor.

Small and medium-sized enterprises are frequently targeted by ransomware offenders. Ransomware, among other computer attacks, is one criminal activity that can be readily avoided using the techniques listed above. 

In today's cyber scene, Norton Security Premium combined with education about these risks is an effective security plan.

The Norton 360 security package is widely regarded as one of the best antivirus applications available, and it is ranked first on our list of the best antivirus programs. It boasts a high rate of malware detection, provides good real-time protection, and is possibly the most feature-rich antivirus program available.

Norton 360 monitors all types of online threats and protects your devices from viruses, malware, spyware, and ransomware using smart artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Norton 360 also protects you from ransomware by preventing unauthorized changes to your documents.

Norton's Cloud Backup tool allows you to securely store all of your important documents in the cloud.

The fundamental purpose to use it, as with all Norton products, is to keep your machine safe. This will protect your important files and data safe from ransomware in the case of its PC cloud backup.

Hackers can encrypt your files with ransomware and force you to pay for the encryption key in order to recover your data.

As a result, adopting cloud backup to protect against this hazard is extremely beneficial. Because your files are safely backed up on Norton's servers, even if someone gains access to them, you'll still have backups.

What is the most effective ransomware defense strategy?

Cyberattacks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and none of them are good for a company.

The most common infection routes for ransomware are visiting malicious websites, unwanted add-ons during downloads, and downloading malicious attachments.

Setting up a proactive ransomware prevention approach is the best way to avoid being a ransomware victim. 

First, invest in security awareness training for your team to help protect against these issues. Put in place stringent security standards to assist secure your employees while not interfering with your workflow.

Even with the finest firewalls and training, an assault may still succeed in breaching your defenses. You must have a strategy in place for what you will do if this happens.

Planning ahead of time is preferable to attempt mitigation after an attack has occurred.