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Ransomware Attacks Ramped Up In 2021

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Ransomware attacks in 2021 continued to grow in not only frequency, but in cost, according to a new survey.

CrowdStrike’s fourth annual Global Security Attitude Survey revealed that 66% of the 2,200 IT and security managers at midsized and large companies said they’d been attacked at least once in the prior 12 months. That number is an increase of 10% over the previous year.

Just as alarming is the increase in ransom amounts paid. According to the survey, the typical ransom payment in 2021 was $1.79 million USD, a jump of 63% over the 2020 figure of $1.10 million.

That huge number only represents a single payment, though—about 96% of companies that paid the demanded ransom was hit again, and paid out again, with another $792,493 USD the average payment.

This highlights two significant things for companies that have been victimized: first, paying the ransom is, in almost every situation, a bad outcome. And second, companies that have been victimized must make sure they’ve cleaned out every bit of ransomware after the attack—it’s common for compromised networks to still have vestiges of the ransomware code left behind, unaccounted for (find out more about this through the book “Ransomware: Understand. Prevent. Recover”).

In addition, ransomware criminals are doing more than just extorting victims themselves: they’re finding new ways to sell exploits to other cybercriminals, leading to more and more attacks as automation increases.

But even with the frightening statistics noted, organizations are still by and large unprepared for attacks, according to the survey. In fact, fully 57% say there is no comprehensive strategy in place to protect against ransomware.

Given the increasingly high-profile attacks, like the Colonial Pipeline hack that massively impacted the U.S. East Coast in May 2021, this apathy seems difficult to understand. Combined with this new survey data showing that two-thirds of respondents experienced an attack in 2021, it is truly no longer a matter of “if,” but “when,” your business will be hit. Having a plan in place for protection, detection, and recovery is of crucial importance.

The CrowdStrike Global Security Attitude Survey can be downloaded here.

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