Ransomware, Malware, Threat Management

With the holidays come greater ransomware attacks

People fill the National Mall to watch the fireworks display during Independence Day celebrations on July 4, 2021, in Washington. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

It’s that time of the year. Time to celebrate. Eat well. And sadly, to deal with even more cybercrime, especially ransomware attacks, according to one firm.

In recent months, ransomware has grown exponentially. According to the 2021 Global Cyberattack Trends report from SonicWall, there have been more than 304 million ransomware attacks, 51 million crypotojacking attacks and more than 32 million Internet of Things (IoT) malware attacks this year alone. Similarly, a recently released Cybereason report focusing on ransomware found that ransomware attackers are “leveraging holidays and weekends for maximum impact.”

Also, 9 out of 10 cybersecurity professionals are “concerned” about attacks on weekends and holidays. And these ransomware attacks typically take longer to respond to and result “in more damage and loss of revenue,” according to CyberReason’s report. Worse yet: nearly one-quarter (24%) of companies lack a specific plan to handle these ransomware attacks. And 8 out of 10 companies that paid the ransom to cybercriminals experienced subsequent attacks.  

The Cybereason report, titled "Organizations at Risk: Ransomware Attackers Don’t Take Holidays," uncovered that most security professionals expressed “high concern about imminent ransomware attacks,” yet nearly half felt they do not have the right tools in place to manage it. 

“Ransomware attackers don’t take time off for holidays. The most disruptive ransomware attacks in 2021 have occurred over weekends and during major holidays when attackers know they have the advantage over targeted organizations,” said Lior Div, CEO and co-founder of Cybereason, in a statement. “This research proves out the fact that organizations are not adequately prepared and need to take additional steps to assure they have the right people, processes and technologies in place so they can effectively respond to ransomware attacks and protect their critical assets.”

Similarly, Bill Conner, president and CEO of SonicWall, noted that, “In a year driven by anxiety and uncertainty, cybercriminals have continued to accelerate attacks against innocent people and vulnerable institutions. 

“This latest data shows that sophisticated threat actors are tirelessly adapting their tactics and embracing ransomware to reap financial gain and sow discord,” says Conner. “With remote working still widespread, businesses continue to be highly exposed to risk, and criminals are acutely aware of uncertainty across the cyber landscape.”

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office found the number of ransomware attacks against schools more than doubled this past year, now making up 57% of all such incidents reported to a multi-state information clearinghouse.

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