Home Did you know ? Is Cloud-Based Ransomware the Future of Cyber Crime?

Is Cloud-Based Ransomware the Future of Cyber Crime?

by Mic Johnson

Cybercriminals are constantly looking for new opportunities to exploit and even though the majority of organizations are fully aware of the threat of ransomware the attacks continue to escalate.

If your business is targeted, you might find yourself searching IT security Sydney, for instance, so that you can get some professional help to remove the immediate threat of an attack and bolster your defenses against future attempts.

Your network security is constantly under attack and so many of us rely heavily on the cloud, which is why it is so relevant to ask, does cloud-based ransomware represent the future of cyber crime?

Here is a look at what you need to know.

The growing threat of cloud ransomware

A good starting point would be to take a look at the numbers and see what sort of impact cloud ransomware is having right now. The figures and estimates are already very alarming.

There are a number of reports available regarding the number of attacks and the cost to businesses of dealing with these security threats and breaches.

Estimates tend to suggest that the cost of cloud-based ransomware is likely to exceed $20 billion in 2021. These costs cover a variety of remedial and preventative actions such as paying an actual ransom fee, legal and forensic investigation costs, relevant fines and penalties that may occur, and the not-insignificant costs of recovering data that has been compromised.

What is also alarming is the news that we now know that more than 70% of these ransomware attacks were successful in 2020. Considering that was a six-fold increase on the previous year, it is likely that the 2021 numbers for successful attacks will probably look even worse.

To put all of this activity into context, a ransomware attack is taking place every 10 seconds of the day.

The cost to your business

Any downtime can be very costly for your business, so being put out of action as a result of a ransomware attack can be very damaging indeed. Especially when you consider that the average downtime forced on a business by an attack of this nature is actually 16 days.

If the thought of your business being virtually paralyzed for more than two weeks as a result of a cloud-based ransomware attack is a shocking thought, remember that this is a reality for many businesses that have already been targeted by cyber criminals.

To put these potential costs into some sort of context, a business in the healthcare industry, for example, will lose approximately $8,500 for every minute of downtime.

The cost to business is already huge and the evidence is there for all to see that the threat of a ransomware attack is increasing all the time. It is already a multi-billion industry and if your business is targeted, it can have a potentially crippling impact on your income.

A noticeable increase in phishing attacks

A fundamental point to consider is that cyber criminals run their activities in much the same way as any other business sector. That means they are constantly seeking new opportunities to generate income.

The pandemic has meant that a significant number of offline businesses have not been operating normally, therefore, these criminals have turned their attention to cloud-based services in order to generate revenue from their activities.

The result of this shift has meant that there has been a noticeable increase in the number of phishing attacks carried out. Unfortunately, it seems that the fact that many organizations have adopted cloud-based services into the way they operate and the combination of large-scale cloud service adoption combined with increased phishing activity has resulted in what could be described as the perfect storm, from a security perspective.

Why the cloud is being targeted

With so many businesses routinely using the cloud it now means that huge numbers of companies are bundled into one massive single ecosystem.

Being able to focus their nefarious attention on this single ecosystem rather than lots of individual businesses means that the cloud is now considered to be a primary target for criminals who use ransomware to generate their income.

It does not require much imagination to envisage the huge financial and operational damage that could be inflicted by cyber criminals if they are successful in breaching the lines of defense that the cloud-based services have put up to protect their many clients.

A constant evolutionary battle

It is abundantly clear that the need to protect the cloud from ransomware attacks and cyber criminals, in general, is an ongoing process that requires significant investment to successfully thwart these constant attacks on the integrity of their systems.

Evidence is easy to find that tells us these criminals are using some of the cash they generate to algorithms that are being increasingly more sophisticated as time goes by.

An example of this would be when new ransomware attacks are shown to be capable of blocking antivirus measures that are applied at a local level. They have also been able to delete data that has been backed up and stolen credentials and personal data that they then threaten to expose publicly if the ransom is not paid.

What a typical attack looks like

A typical attack will usually consist of the victim getting an email that appears to be from their cloud provider. The email asks them to click on a link that claims to be updating an application but actually launches a successful phishing attack.

Once a malicious app has been installed, the criminals have the opportunity to be able to start encrypting data and making their demands.

There is little doubt that we are now entering a dangerous new era where cloud-based ransomware is the most dominant threat to your business’s stability. In the past, cyber criminals have adopted more of a scattergun approach to ransomware attacks. Sending out a huge amount of phishing emails in the hope of receiving small payments from lots of individual users who fall victim to their attack.

What we are now witnessing is a more coordinated and targeted attack on the cloud. There is enough evidence to suggest that cloud-based ransomware would appear to be the preferred option for the cyber criminals of today, and into the future.

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