Ransomware Attack: One of the most lucrative cybercrimes.
Ransomware has been named one of the most lucrative cybercrimes existing in the world for many years. However, it’s not extremely highlighted in the past.
The dangers of ransomware came into the limelight when the pandemic happened. As more people started working from home, many companies struggled with ensuring their teams were aware of the dangers of cybercrime – particularly ransomware attacks.
In fact, the majority of employees admit that they are not fully aware of cyber threats that may have already been in front of them while reading emails. Bad actors ‘Hackers’ typically target employees when executing cyber attacks.
Ransomware attacks increase daily.
Ransomware attacks increase daily, disrupting operations and the cash flow of businesses across the world.
Let’s talk about Australia for a moment. Regardless of your industry – utility, healthcare, finance, non-profit, retail, or Government. In Australia alone, you can see a significant rise in cyber attacks, particularly ransomware.
In what was called a ‘tsunami of cyber attacks’, Australian businesses have been quietly paying off a ransom to hackers to salvage their compromised data and systems. And this has been dragging for years, apparently.
According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre, a 60 per cent rise in ransomware attacks against Australian businesses was noted in 2020 alone. It’s now 2021 and the same dilemma keeps increasing, continuing a rampage towards businesses – including SMEs.
This criminal activity continues to pose extreme dangers across all industries and regardless of the size of the business.
Unfortunately, the majority of Australian businesses still use the line, ‘Why will they even attack us? We’re not a huge corporation anyway!’
The reality is. Business owners who have this mindset may need to think about changing their perspective towards cyberattacks, especially ransomware.
Ignorance is no longer an option in this world. Hackers do not spare anyone.
Damage ransomware can cause
As cybercriminal demands increase, so does the ransom.
The amount of ransom hackers demand to compromised organisations is of a whole new magnitude. In ransomware attacks, the cybercriminal will infiltrate a business’s computer systems aiming to steal, lock, or encrypt the data they have.
The cyber attacker will then demand a ransom payment in return for the data.
Ransomware attacks can paralyse a business’s operations and can cause a wave of panic not only inside the office but also out. You have to think about your suppliers and clients.
Upon the ransomware attack, businesses are already bleeding money due to the freeze in operations and the time spent in dealing with the cybercriminals.
Brand reputation can also be majorly impacted. It takes years for businesses to build – but with a single ransomware attack, your brand reputation can be destroyed in an instant.
Should I Pay A Ransom To Cybercriminals?
Paying up a ransom to hackers is something that typically organisations are not very happy to share and make public to their customers and suppliers.
Many Australian businesses are discreetly paying off cybercriminals. One of the key reasons apart from getting their data back is – to save their brand reputation from being tainted by a single attack.
Hidden transactions between hackers and businesses are hindering authorities from truly monitoring the frequency of ransomware attacks across the country.
This year’s CSCRC’s report estimates that cybercrime has cost the economy globally around US$1 trillion. However, as mentioned above, it’s only an estimate because not everyone is transparent about their encounters with hackers. In Australia, over 29 data breaches on international companies and government agencies were reported.
The list includes the following alongside others:
- UnitingCare Queensland experience inaccessibility in its digital and technology systems last April 2021
- Transport for NSW where some TfNSW information was taken
- Tasmanian Ambulance, which exposed the information of people who used their services
- Toll Holdings were hit not by one, but by two ransomware attacks
- JBS Foods who paid $11 Million to hackers
- And even an Australian Minister’s Private Email Accounts and WA Parliamentary Email Network
These are just a few of the companies that experienced a breach.
The consequences of paying up ransom.
If you think paying a ransom ends the problem at hand, the answer is NO. Paying a ransom will result in a number of outcomes – and it’s not always for the better.
A business that pays a ransom to hackers to regain access to their system or encrypted files/data may encounter a number of outcomes. These may include:
- The hacker honors the ransom and releases access to systems and data.
- The hacker refuses to release access to systems and data and inturn increases the ransom payment required.
- The hackers pretend to release access to systems and data, but will continue lingering in the background – creating multiple backdoors so they can ransom again at a later date.
If the hackers provide the key to the encrypted files or release your network access upon paying, then that may be considered good news. However, often the decryptor provided when a ransom is paid invariably fail to return all files to their original state and some files are usually lost.
Furthermore, it doesn’t give you the confidence that these hackers will never attack you again. They may continue to linger around your network waiting for the right time to perform their evil deeds one more time.
They may perform another attack.
As business owners and their teams are not aware that cybercriminals did not leave their networks (creating backdoors), it makes it easy for cybercriminals to strike again – even with best practice cyber security systems in place.
An infinite loop of cyber attacks
Paying up ransomware may be a dangerous step to take.
A ransom payment to hackers doesn’t only buy back encrypted files and access, it provides cash flow for their next cyber attack. Money, which is usually paid in cryptocurrencies, will then be used to encourage many other cybercriminals to perform attacks.
Like any business model, a successful transaction attracts more people to invest in it. It’s the same across the cybercriminal world.
If a cybercriminal is informed that an organisation paid a ransom, they will immediately assume that this same company or other similar companies are likely to pay another ransom.
Remember… Most of the time business owners think:
‘They will never be attacked again once they pay a ransom.’
Business owners, especially SMEs who consistently think they are exempt from ransomware attacks because they are not as huge as JBS, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and the government – need to re-think their mindset.
The money that landed in the hands of cybercriminal organisations serves as a new beacon of opportunity to continue executing heists, taking advantage of the ignorance many companies have regarding the reality of cybercrimes.
Additionally, your hacked credentials and encrypted files will typically be available and circulating on the dark web – producing an infinite loop of potential cyberattacks. Unbeknownst to many, further attacks on wider scales can happen to any business of any size, from any industry, without any given time or place.
Ransomware attacks are a vicious cycle, particularly for SMEs. Cyber attacks including ransomware can burn a hole in your cash flow, brand reputation, disrupt operations and ultimately lose customers’ trust and confidence.
This is why businesses, small and large, are investing in Cyber Intelligence solutions, like CRINTEL to act as a double-check for their cybersecurity teams.
Discover how Cyber Threat Intelligence helps businesses secure their brand reputation, operations, and cash flow through CRINTEL.
CRINTEL helps SMEs deal with the dangers of the Dark Web
CRINTEL – Cyber Risk Intelligence is a Private Intelligence Agency (PIA) that specialises in Cyber Threat and Risk Intelligence originating from the Dark Web.
We work as a co-managed solution to support and provide your internal team and external IT cybersecurity advisors with 24/7 live monitoring of the dark web.
Our Threat Intelligence Units (TIUs) monitor your business domain, email addresses and key suppliers – looking for exposed credentials that we can find about your business and suppliers – that are up for sale on the dark web.
Our enterprise-level cyber intelligence systems, used by Fortune 500 companies, are supported by human operatives and collect live dynamic data that is scanned or sourced from live dark web forums leveraging multiple sources in real-time 24/7, 365 days per year.
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NOTE: As this article is sourced from one or more third parties we cannot guarantee the information is correct and suggest if you are relying on this information, for whatever reason, then you should first do your own research. Click here to learn more about how CRINTEL can help your business.