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Ransomware attacks exploded in 2020

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Ransomware attacks are growing in number and sophistication, targeting organizations hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is according to a new report from IBM security arm, the Security X-Force Incident Response.

Since the beginning of 2020, ransomware attacks (opens in new tab) have “exploded”, explains the report, representing a quarter of all cyberattacks recorded. June was the worst month by far, with a third of the year's ransomware attacks taking place in the first month of summer.

Ransom demands are also increasing exponentially, according to IBM’s security team, with the figure passing $40 million in some cases.

Of all the different ransomware families, Sodinokibi still appears to be the most common, accounting for a third of all ransomware incidents registered this year to date.

Criminals see schools and universities as the most attractive targets, mostly because they are among the organizations hit hardest by Covid-19 - and were also forced to go digital within a very short period.

When it comes to damage limitation, IBM hints that paying the ransom fee is not the correct strategy.

“Ransom payments encourage attackers to continue their activity, validate their business model and incentivize additional cybercriminals to participate in this type of attack activity,” explained the firm.

Instead, IBM recommends businesses establish and maintain offline backups, implement strategies to prevent unauthorized data access, and employ user behavior analytics and pen testers to identify potential vulnerabilities.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.