Threat Spotlight: Ransomware Trends
Apps Unveiled|August 2021
Ransomware attacks have surged in 2021, with the number of attacks increasing dramatically and ransom amounts continuing to skyrocket. Cybercriminals are also expanding their targets, shifting their focus to our critical infrastructure and evolving into deep-rooted software supply chain attack campaigns, which can cause long-lasting devastation.
Fleming Shi, Chief Technology Officer, Barracuda

The grim outlook for the future of ransomware leaves no one spared from financial damage or brand-crushing headlines. Ransomware criminals are penetrating the foundation of our digital economy, from trusted software vendors to IT service providers.

Many of these attacks are being led by a handful of high-profile ransomware gangs. Barracuda analysis of ransomware attacks that occurred between August 2020 and July 2021 showed that REvil accounted for 19% of attacks, and DarkSide is known to be the cause of 8%.

HIGHLIGHTED THREAT

Ransomware: Cybercriminals use malicious software, often delivered as an email attachment or link, to infect the network and lock email, data, and other critical files until a ransom is paid. These evolving and sophisticated attacks are damaging and costly. They can cripple day-to-day operations, cause chaos, and result in financial losses from downtime, ransom payments, recovery costs, and other unbudgeted and unanticipated expenses.

Recently, criminals have refined their tactics to create a double extortion scheme. They base their ransom demands on research they perform ahead of the attack. They steal sensitive data from their victims and demand payment in exchange for a promise to not publish or sell the data to other criminals. Since criminals cannot be trusted, victims who pay are often contacted several months later and asked for another payment to keep the stolen data secret. Some ransomware criminals will accept payment, but sell the data anyway.

THE DETAILS

In the past 12 months, Barracuda researchers have identified and analyzed 121 ransomware incidents, a 64% increase in attacks, year over year. Cybercriminals are still heavily targeting municipalities, health care, and education, but attacks on other businesses are surging.

Attacks on corporations, such as infrastructure, travel, financial services, and other businesses, made up 57% of all ransomware attacks between August 2020 and July 2021, up from just 18% in a 2020 study by Barracuda researchers. Infrastructure-related businesses account for 11% of all the attacks. In fact, ransomware attacks are quickly evolving to software supply chain attacks, which reach more businesses in a single attempt.

It’s previously highlighted in Barracuda’s Threat Spotlight: Government Ransomware Attacks report (published in August 2019) that how municipalities are not always well-prepared for these types of attacks, often dealing with tight budgets, small IT staffs, and outdated tools. But the problem is much worse than researchers thought, especially as trusted software vendors have been weaponized against their customers, leading to attacks from unexpected sources at an alarming rate.

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