Ransomware gangs are evolving their operations at a rapid pace and making off with increasingly large pay days, according to a new report from Palo Alto Networks Unit 42.

Pulling from its own data and Crypsis incident response data around the world, Unit 42 found that the average ransom paid by organizations nearly tripled over the past year, from $115,123 in 2019 to $312,493. High-end ransoms have gone up significantly too. Between 2015 and 2019, the largest-known individual ransom demand was for $15 million. In 2020 groups were demanding as much as $30 million to unlock a victim’s files and systems.

Many of the top trends highlighted in the report track with previously released research: ransom demands and payments are going up, one group after another jumped on the double extortion bandwagon and the pandemic-wracked healthcare sector the most targeted industry.

Jen Miller-Osbourn, deputy director of threat intelligence at Unit 42, told SC Media that what most stood out while looking through the data was the speed at which the overall ransomware ecosystem was able to transform and adapt new ideas. One group would develop a new high-success tactic, technique or procedure and within months (or weeks) it became almost standard practice among other groups.

Please register to continue.

Already registered? Log in.

Once you register, you'll receive:

  • News analysis

    The context and insight you need to stay abreast of the most important developments in cybersecurity. CISO and practitioner perspectives; strategy and tactics; solutions and innovation; policy and regulation.

  • Archives

    Unlimited access to nearly 20 years of SC Media industry analysis and news-you-can-use.

  • Daily Newswire

    SC Media’s essential morning briefing for cybersecurity professionals.

  • Learning Express

    One-click access to our extensive program of virtual events, with convenient calendar reminders and ability to earn CISSP credits.