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Hacking and ransomware are key tools for criminals right now

ransomware
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Martial Red)

Despite the fact the world has been living with Covid-19 for nearly a year now, most criminals are still using the pandemic to defraud people and make their way into corporate networks.

According to a new report from Positive Technologies, hackers have focused their attentions on two victim pools in particular: the healthcare industry and remote workers.

Organizations in the healthcare industry were “hard hit” in the third quarter, the report states. Attacks crippled hospital functions and systems, and even facilities that treat life-threatening ailments were not spared.

In most cases, criminals achieved their goals using ransomware, with other types of attack falling in popularity. Social engineering, for example, fell from 67 percent in Q1 to just 45 percent in Q3, while ransomware jumped from 39 percent in Q2 to 51 percent in Q3.

With most organizations forced to embrace a remote working model (and many for the first time), criminals were able to take advantage of gaps in the cybersecurity armor. Vulnerability exploitation grew by 30 percent, the report explained, with hackers actively targeting flaws in remote access systems.

Another key takeaway from the report is that the criminals are no longer casting a particularly wide net. The number of targeted attacks, Positive Technologies says, remained “stubbornly high”, growing from 63 percent in Q2 to 70 percent in Q3.