Cryptocurrency for Ransomware May Fuel “Largest Crimewave in Modern History”

A new cybersecurity alert by a private phishing defense firm has released a warning to all organizations that ransomware attacks are expected to increase.

A new alert issued by PhishMe, a phishing defense solutions provider has asserted that ransomware attacks are on the rise and are unlikely to go away anytime soon.

To the contrary, a common consensus among cybersecurity experts and former federal law enforcement officials reveal that the coming together of factors such as exploitable digital data, cryptocurrency ransoms and vulnerable employees might fuel “the largest crimewave” in modern history.

The alert comes on the same day when the United States and Canadian governments released a joint alert of their own, warning citizens of the recent surge in ransomware.

While ransomware was initially known to target individuals through infamous malware such as CryptoWall, malicious attackers are now turning their attention to larger, more lucrative targets.

The most high-profile recent ransomware attacks include the infamous $17,000 extortion suffered by Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital and ransomware crossing over from Windows machines to target Apple OS X systems.

Both instances saw ransomware extortionists seek their ransoms in the cryptocurrency, bitcoin.

Rohyt Belani, CEO and co-founder of PhishMe claimed 2016 as the year which is shaping up to be the “year of the ransomware attack.” He added:

The combination of cryptocurrency, an increase in world-wide data connectivity, poor backup procedures, and employees who are ill-equipped to defend against phishing attacks has led to the perfect storm for ransomware to succeed.

Backups, Backups and…Backups

The alert rightly asserts that there is a common misconception among companies that simply adding additional layers of security will reduce the potential intrusion of ransomware malware. A phishing email through a spear-phishing attack or a social engineering foray will always find its way through filters. Besides, humans, as company employees or individuals have always been the weakest defense against cyber threats.

With this in mind, it is important that employees are given the necessary training to educate them of the ways to be wary of malicious emails and attachments. Furthermore, it is important to provide employees with the means to report suspicious emails which could help prevent the spread of new strains of ransomware.

Most important of all, it is vital for companies, hospitals, law enforcement agencies and even individuals to frequently back up their data. Preferably offline. On a different computer or storage solution. A frequent data backup schedule would be the perfect solution to sidestep a ransom demand and simply restore the data to the machine.

Ransomware is quickly becoming the most intrusive and menacing cybersecurity threat in recent times. A list of to-do’s and the means to stay clear and safe from ransomware is provided by the United States’ and Canadian governments can be found in an alert here.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Samburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.