It seems last year's trend of increasing ransomware incidents is likely to continue into 2019 — a report by Positive Technologies found that incidents of involving CryptoLocker Ransomware have risen by 24%. This malware has been used to extort millions of dollars from numerous organizations, with the healthcare industry being targeted the most. These types of incidents are expected to continue to increase throughout the year.
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the data of an infected computer leaving a user unable to access his files, and in some cases rendering the PC unusable. The victim is usually presented a note demanding a ransom to decrypt the computer’s files. The main goals of these types of malware are monetary gain but can also be used to solely for disruption. CryptoLocker is a family of ransomware popular among cybercriminals to extort money from organizations.
CryptoLocker and its many variants have been used to coerce multiple organizations to pay in order to regain their data. The healthcare industry has hit particularly hard by ransomware attacks. According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report 2019 (VBIR) 70% of malware outbreaks in the healthcare industry were due to ransomware in 2018. The reason for the high number of ransomware incidents in healthcare is usually attributed to lack of adequate cybersecurity. Furthermore, hospitals also contain vast amounts of patient data and more likely to pay to regain access to their records.
The Positive Technology report analyses the cyber incidents that occurred during the first quarter of 2019. Their findings show that the use of CryptoLocker spiked from 9% to 24%. This would make CryptoLocker is responsible for nearly one-quarter of all malware incidents within the study's samples. The primary vector used is phishing; socially engineered emails designed to fool a user into downloading malicious software.
We can expect to see these incidents increase as the year goes on. The report estimates that cyber incidents have been maintaining a growth of 11% and will continue to do so. It is crucial for organizations to implement proper cybersecurity measures and backups to avoid, or mitigate, a malware attack. Payment to cyber criminals will only contribute to an increase in the use of ransomware.