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Phishing and Ransomware Attacks Dominate Data Breaches 

2021-07-23
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Phishing and Ransomware Dominate Data Breaches Article

75% of global organizations suffered a phishing attack in 2020, and 96% of phishing attacks are launched using a simple email.

Ransomware prevention has never been more important, with ransomware operators averaging over 4,000 attacks daily, and asking for an average ransom of $233,317 USD. The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) said recently in its National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organized Crime 2021 report, "Ransomware continues to dominate law enforcement and media attention due to the financial, data and service losses incurred by victims," NCA says. "This year has been notable for the increasing use of an accompanying threat to publish stolen data by ransomware operators. Industry partners estimate that over 50% of all ransomware activity includes this additional threat." Let’s explore a few different phishing and ransomware trends we are seeing, and discuss the ransomware prevention methods that are keeping up with demand!


The Cost of Data Breach

The cost of data breach has gone up, as IBM and the Ponemon Institute discovered in a report published in 2020. The average cost associated with a data breach was $4 million then – imagine what it is now?! But what other consequences do we suffer when we experience a cyber-attack? The U.S. Risk list is by no means exhaustive.


  • Legal liabilities
  • Forensic data recovery
  • Supply chain interruptions
  • Reputational harm
  • Intellectual property theft
  • Lost control over critical business infrastructure and networks
  • Increased cyber security insurance premiums after a cyber attack

Phishing Trends

Phishing is no longer easy to spot. With spell and grammar checks, you can no longer count on misspellings to alert you to a problem. Just this past week, the Top 5 phishing campaigns were incredibly clever:


  • "Microsoft: Closure of your Microsoft Account"
  • "Amazon: You've Entered An Incorrect Password Too Many Times"
  • "INTERAC e-Transfer: Bell Mobility Sent You Money (Refund for $200.00)"
  • "Making changes to Payroll system"
  • "Microsoft: Office Account Security Info Verification"

Many of us have likely seen these headlines in our email inboxes this week. Just take a look in your “junk” or “spam” folder for a long list of attackers just waiting to take your money. Just one click can put you at the mercy of ransomware – the second dominating threat in 2021. Data breach costs jobs – and is the likely outcome of many of those phishing emails. Remember the data breach that exposed the personal information of 533 million Facebook users? If you don’t, you should.


Ransomware Trends

Widening gap in ransomware quality, as bigger names like Ryuk and RagnarLocker dominate the larger attacks, and less sophisticated ransomware as a service like Dharma operating on the lower end of the spectrum. Big-dollar ransomware operators are on the hunt for big-money targets like hospitals and financial institutions. Lately we’ve seen many utilities and supply chains attacked. While services like Dharma aren’t hitting the big companies, they make up for their sophistication with volume, attacking small and medium sized businesses and they are not above attacking individuals.


Secondary & triple extortion will grow in the upcoming years because it’s proven itself profitable. We’ve been seeing a great deal of secondary extortion until 2021, when triple extortion became the trend to watch – and fear. RagnarLocker, Maze and REvil have all deployed this type of attack, and it’s becoming the standard.


Repurposing tools to attack is one way attackers are attempting to get around the rules and your protections. By exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities and stealing credentials, attackers are gaining access easier and faster, and making themselves at home. Ransomware can sit dormant in a system for years, gathering data and creating backdoors. Did you know that over 34% of businesses around the world suffer some sort of insider attack or threat? A professional security solution is needed to combat this looming threat.


Phishing & Ransomware Prevention Trends

Many companies are fighting back against phishing by installing anti-phishing software, or other more powerful security software to analyse all traffic and communication in the network for abnormalities. We are seeing many more companies educate their employees on how to identify phishing emails, including tell-tale signs like bad grammar or requests for too much information. While the remote work trends means employers can’t forbid their employees from working on public networks, many companies are outfitting their employee PCs with security protection through a secure web gateway service.


A few ransomware prevention trends we are seeing center around a zero-trust model. Blocking executables is one way people are preventing malicious files from being delivered to employees. Another trend we are seeing is the restricted use of elevated privileges. Patches are necessary, and it’s necessary to update your systems regularly. A zero-trust model provides more visibility and control over the network and over ransomware prevention.


Managed security providers are the current industry standard for security in a dangerous cyber-world. MSPs are the best of both the technical world, with the most cutting edge technology, and the human world, with skilled technicians. Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Report discovered that misconfigurations are the target of choice for attackers – because they are so readily available! Working with a security provider takes the worries about misconfigurations out of your hands. And working with a managed security provider like Sangfor, means you get to outsource your security service to the experts. Take some time to research what your MSP provides you.


Sangfor Security Services is a carefully developed methodology used to help organizations deal with ransomware. This type of security service provides a security audit, to determine where your network might be the weakest, and then follow through to strengthen you against any type of attack. Ransomware prevention is the name of the game.