Ransomware Threat In 2022

Ransomware attacks happened every 11 seconds in 2021, what can we expect in 2022?

Ransomware has made its way into the consciousness of business owners and security admins over the past two years. As an increasingly prevalent cyberattack, ransomware has grabbed more headlines than any other cyberattack in 2021. According to a recent study by Cybersecurity Ventures, every 11 seconds ransomware attacks have been halting businesses. With close to 714 million ransomware attacks by the end of 2021, things are only going to get worse in 2022.

Statistics and Impact of Ransomware Attacks in 2021

Never in their faintest dreams, security admins and cybersecurity experts thought that 2021 would be a year of the cyber surge. In addition, hackers can wreak havoc with a 11-second window into an organisation’s digital infrastructure. Even the much-awaited winter holiday season was disrupted with the inception of the Log4j vulnerability.

Ransomware attacks have transcended into a business model. With the birth of RaaS (Ransomware-as-a-Service), anyone can get into a business and install malware. It often becomes hard to track the attacks as ransom is paid by a peer-to-peer exchange of digital currency or simply put, cryptocurrency. In January 2021 alone, 19 ransomware attacks were recorded globally. The attacks were ranged across different business verticals like Apex Lab, a Phlebotomy giant, to DSC Logistics, a notable third-party supply chain management company based out of Illinois.

The ransomware attacks in 2021 Q1 were three times in number compared to attacks in 2019. The attackers generally hold businesses for ransom that ranges from $30,000 to $250,000. This year, the damage rendered by ransomware attacks has been 57 times more significant than in 2015, i.e., a total of $20 billion (and counting).

Ransomware gangs like HelloKitty, Mount Locker, PYSA, Darkside, Conti, Clop, REvil, Egregor, among hundreds of others, have become common names to the ears of security admins. Ransomware is currently growing at an astounding exponential rate, with no signs of slowing down.

Extortion leads to Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware is nothing without the extortion part. Black hat hackers are notorious, some do it for the kicks or impulses, and some do it to make money. Today with inflation on the rise, almost all bad actors are getting into the bandwagon of making huge bucks through extortion and exploitation.

With the internet and limitless digitalization, the world has become an oyster. With a few clicks, you can get food delivered to your doorstep. And there is the dark side, where criminals can take down an organisation and completely cripple a security team with just a few clicks. Even the best security teams cannot protect themselves from ransomware if there is a small loophole in IT infrastructure.

Extortionists behind these criminal organisations threaten global companies to leak sensitive information of their clients to the outside world.

This scenario can dissolve a company into mist within 24 hours.In 2022, the practice of extortion is only going to worsen. This calls forward the need for upgrading defences. With the arrival and use of Ransomware 3.0 or Nuclear Ransomware 3.0, cybercriminals won’t just encrypt files, instead leak the information. The aftermath of the information being public could jeopardize the image of a company, affecting its stock price as well as its profits.

Holding on to the conventional approach won’t protect you in the long run. Stopping sophisticated ransomware attacks needs a multi-faceted approach and understanding the importance of cyber health. For instance, security teams need to rely on tools that provide transparency to exposures — robust methods to detect unprecedented attacks.

Ransomware Attacks will be Rising in 2022

As 2021 has ended, with a new year in the making, new challenges in safeguarding and protecting devices await us. Ransomware will become much more aggressive in the coming year. Businesses need to bring in new tactics to fend off a rampant rise in ransomware attacks. The use of RaaS will continue to grow as the affiliate model makes it easier for anyone to launch cyberattacks.

With RaaS, attackers can extort double the ransom, which is already a threat that cybersecurity experts have experienced. As RaaS cartels and syndicates grow in large numbers, anyone without any form of technical knowledge can launch their cybercrime operation and run them remotely.

Then there is a remote access ransomware model, which in a cybercriminal ecosystem is regarded as Access-as-a-Service. With this model, people can sell and exchange credentials, which further compromises any website or service. The combined prowess of these bleeding-edge cybercriminal technologies can bring a new frontier into ransomware attacks. Anyone with a despicable mindset could pay to cybercrime syndicates, leverage them, and successfully deploy ransomware.

Major Ransomware Trends to look out for in 2022

Cybercriminals are often drawn to supply chains. The bigger the customer base is, the more devastating these attacks will be. As compared to the yesteryears, supply chain attacks increased by fourth-fold in 2021. Moreover, around 42% of healthcare and medical centres hit by cyber-attacks, were also inflicted by ransomware attacks. This, of course involved compromising patient records, staff records, medical equipment and much more. Then there are businesses from other verticals that greatly benefitted from digital transformation. Work from home has been a blessing in disguise for most employees but a curse for security teams and cybersecurity experts.

For any ransomware or any other cyberattack, the absence of visibility plays a crucial role. The Kaseya ISV breach will be remembered till the end of time. With this attack, cybersecurity experts aren’t the only ones to have procured information. Given that the attack was a wake-up call for industry as a whole, the blueprint of the attack is already out. Even the bad actors know how they can take down Fort Know without breaking a sweat.

Four significant trends that cybercriminals will follow in 2022 to launch successful attacks:

  1.     Ransomware syndicates might put the lives of innocents in jeopardy by engaging in “pile-on.”
  2.     Supply chains practice commoditization. An increase in supply and demand would bring successful ventures into the crosshair of attackers.
  3.     The use of firmware malware could make it easier for attackers to breach any digital infrastructure.
  4.     The hybrid workforce will continue to be a prevailing reason for allowing attackers to take control of devices.

All businesses can do is brace themselves for an unprecedented increase in cyberattacks and curate strategies by relying on cybersecurity tools and experts that will hopefully give them an upper hand in this battle against cybercriminals.

Be Cyber-ready

Fear has been the greatest motivator to protect computer systems and networks from bad actors. However, something as simple as fear isn’t enough to protect your digital assets. Continuous vulnerability scanning, patching and timely remediation are required to orchestrate a proper CyberHygiene routine.