Ransomware attacks are increasing at an alarming rate -- Colonial Pipeline, JBS and now McDonald's, where cybercriminals stole some data. And those are just a few of the growing number of cybersecurity breaches being reported.
According to the Institute of Security and Technology, victims paid $350 million in ransom in 2020, more than four times the amount in 2019. Around 2,400 government organizations, healthcare facilities and schools in the U.S. were reportedly attacked.
The economic impacts from these evolving cybercrimes are massive. Apart from the loss of money paid in ransom, companies and governments have to go through several additional challenges, such as service downtime, loss of private data and recovery cost.
This surge in ransomware attacks highlights the urgency in dealing with the national security threat before it gets out of control. Businesses should carefully evaluate every potential alternative available before paying the ransom. When hackers succeed in extortions, these kinds of crimes become more attractive. And there is no guarantee that the hackers would give the decryption keys even if a ransom is paid.
The government organizations and the private sector should work hand in hand to deal with cyberattacks and ensure data is recovered without paying a ransom. Companies should keep law enforcement agencies in the loop when tackling a ransomware attack and support the administration in disrupting the hackers’ network. There should be an aggressive, joint strategy and an unbreakable security network to combat these cybersecurity challenges.
Meanwhile, a collaborative global effort involving governments and security agencies is crucial in the fight against cybercrimes. Nations should aggressively investigate and prosecute cybercriminals operating from their land. Governments should use strategies, such as sanctions, to pressure countries refusing to act against cybercriminals.
See also: What’s Next for Ransomware
The increasing number of cybercrimes could also be exposing the security loopholes in the companies' network with employees working away from the office. Most businesses are operating remotely these days. It is important to note that not all business has the right security system in place, as they were unprepared for a sudden work-from-home migration when coronavirus struck. Organizations should implement security protocols, such as multifactor authentication, endpoint detection and response and data encryption, as well as prepare a plan to deal with these kinds of security threats before it strikes.
Another aspect to note in the recent cyberattacks is that the criminals seem to prefer cryptocurrency, which makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to track criminals behind transactions. It is high time that the government enforces strict guidelines to ensure that the crypto exchanges follow processes such as Know Your Customer.