Looking Back at the Big Attack: The Rise of Ransomware Attacks in 2020

Posted on January 14, 2021 Backups & DR

With mass migration of users online, on unprotected and weak security systems, ransomware attacks have spread as the great online pandemic during 2020.

In recent years, it’s been no secret that we’re relying on digital connectivity more than ever. It seems as though everyone is checking their smartphone on a pretty consistent basis. After the global pandemic of 2020, though, trends in technology hit an all-time high. 

People of all industries are working from home more than before, for one thing. Another unfortunate trend from 2020 is that of the rise in ransomware attacks.

Companies and professionals have been at a higher risk for this type of cybersecurity threat. Even industry leaders recognize the serious impact of recent ransomware attacks

If you’re responsible for your organization’s information technology (IT), take note. It’s time to take serious preventative measures against cybersecurity threats for 2021. Keep reading to ensure your remote workers and operations are protected and secure.

Tech-Based Trends That Came from the Global Pandemic of 2020

The Coronavirus is not the first pandemic humanity has experienced on a global scale. Still, it’s the first pandemic in which we’ve had ever-expanding digital connectivity. So, economies weren’t throttled right off the bat when everyone quarantined. 

It’s true that brick-and-mortar establishments suffered if they couldn’t adapt. Many small-town businesses had to close down in 2020. This was true, in particular, if they couldn’t keep up with their sales through online stores. 

Still, corporations within every industry were able to survive and thrive. They did so through remote working and managing. 

As a result, in so many ways, the Digital Revolution was catalyzed in 2020. Examples include increased video conferencing and more contactless deliveries.

Companies were adapting as best they could. The digital technology itself was adapting, too.

Leading up to 2020, artificial intelligence (AI) was significant in the tech world. Once everyone was shopping from home, though, AI advanced even more. It went through several major overhauls for its better use. 

All kinds of software programs, cloud computing solutions, and other applications benefited, too. Companies were aware of how reliant we were becoming on these digital solutions. They were then willing to invest in ways to profit from this digital dependence.

As digitization skyrocketed, though, so did cybersecurity threats. As businesses continued to move operations online, more sensitive data moved online, too. That made organizations extra vulnerable to cybersecurity threats like ransomware. 

What Is Ransomware, and How Can It Threaten Your Organization?

Imagine you log in to your work’s online database like you do every day for your job. Instead of accessing the system like you’re used to, though, a new screen pops up with a message. It tells you that you need to pay a specific amount of digital currency to access this database again. 

This is the beginning of a typical ransomware attack. Ransomware programs are malicious software developed to exploit profitable organizations. Once the victim pays the set “ransom,” they will be able to access their sensitive information again. 

Ransomware has been around for many years – about as long as e-mail messaging has existed. Most often, ransomware programs are sent to computer users disguised as urgent e-mails. Upon opening these secretly malicious e-mails, a ransomware program is sent throughout your system of sensitive data. 

Another way ransomware can threaten your organization is through seemingly innocent pop-ups. If an employee clicks on the wrong pop-up, you might find yourself in a costly situation. 

There are many reasons ransomware can be so threatening these days. One is due to the significance of private data stored online. Financial disputes or any kind of internal company communications are all too vulnerable.

Ransomware programs not only have the potential to shut down digital operations. They can also suggest they’ll publish sensitive information that could damage a reputation.

Until the ransom is paid, your organization could continue to be at risk. The longer the program is active, the more likely you might lose consumer loyalty or even capital. 

Examples of Serious Ransomware Attacks

The unfortunate organization that becomes a victim of ransomware is actually one of many. The truth is that in 2020, 69% of North American companies reported being affected by ransomware.

It’s true that there are some trends in what kind or size of a company attracts these attacks. Ransomware does tend to attack at least mid-size businesses because they will have more valuable assets on hand. Still, any kind of organization is vulnerable to be exploited by ransomware.

The larger the corporation and its assets, the higher the ransom will likely be. You might remember hearing about a data breach at Foxconn in November of 2020. Foxconn is a huge company that manages services for Apple, Microsoft, and even Google. 

Of course, it’s understandable to assume that Foxconn would have every kind of cybersecurity measure in place. Still, they got exploited and were held at ransom at a value of over $34 million.

Facilities within the healthcare industries are also common targets of ransomware. One notable example was the data breach of Magellan Health in 2020. There ended up being hundreds of thousands of victims of this major invasion of privacy. 

The University of California was another significant victim of ransomware last year. The university’s academic data was held on lock-down until part of the ransom was paid. 

At the end of the day, a ransomware attack can happen to any business or organization that owns sensitive data or assets. If you’re in charge of maintaining cybersecurity and privacy for your organization, take note. You’ll want to invest in the most reliable ways to protect against ransomware – ideally as soon as possible. 

Ways to Protect Your IT from Cybersecurity Threats Like Ransomware

Moving towards remote business operations can be more convenient and safer from the spread of COVID-19. Even after the pandemic winds down, remote working could still be a part of many companies moving forward. That means investing in ways to protect against ransomware threats is all the more essential. 

There are simple ways to maintain basic cybersecurity. For one thing, make sure you install every software or system update when it becomes available. Relying on outdated applications or systems can make your devices more vulnerable. 

It’s also worthwhile to keep your employees well-trained on cybersecurity threats. For example, does all of your staff know how to spot potential ransomware e-mails? Do they have access to avenues to report to management when a potential ransomware threat pops up?

Take the time to develop continued education for your team. It’s also worthwhile to require your remote workers to have specific equipment or software safeguards. That way, everyone can work towards protecting the company’s assets even when remote. 

Still, it’s next to impossible to mitigate all ransomware threats to your company by yourself. It can be in your best interest long-term to hire reliable cybersecurity services instead. 

Consider the following fact about cybersecurity services throughout the world. In the year 2019 alone (pre-pandemic), the cybersecurity industry made over $112 billion in revenue.

Hire qualified cybersecurity experts to stay in-tune with modern privacy standards. Doing so could be just what you need for the ultimate security of your sensitive or valuable data.

Consider Paying for Security as a Service (SaaS) 

As mentioned above, hiring cybersecurity experts could be of particular value. They might even be your best bet against ransomware attacks.

Having a reliable SaaS team that has your back can bring you significant peace of mind, too. This peace of mind will allow you to focus on maintaining business operations as well as a long-term profit.

A proper SaaS solution will not only be able to identify and notify you of potential ransomware. You can also trust that the built-in software will protect against these programs as soon as they even detect them. Your sensitive or valuable data couldn’t be in safer hands.

Don’t install just any cybersecurity software you find online. Take the time to research your ideal SaaS expectations. After all, every company’s ideal cybersecurity solution is going to be unique based on their needs. This could include anything from increased cloud computing security to better authentication processes. 

Then, be willing to work with your SaaS developers to incorporate those preventative measures. Working with them in real-time in the event of a cyber attack could be critical in maintaining company security. That’s why developing a healthy relationship with their service staff could be so useful in the long run. 

Plus, with the right SaaS solution, you could be able to restore any lost data after a potential breach. It’ll be up to you to work with your SaaS provider to find the cybersecurity plan and system your organization needs. 

Invest in Cybersecurity Against Ransomware Attacks

In 2021, there’s no need to put your organization and its sensitive data at risk. Ransomware attacks can cost a lot of money in the long run, so it’s worth taking cybersecurity seriously. 

In fact, that’s where our team of experts can be of service. We offer reliable cloud security for remote working businesses and more. 

So, browse through the rest of our website at your convenience. On our blog, you’ll find the latest trends in the cloud-based industry. To start, check out our cybersecurity services available to you and your team now. 

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