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Ransomware on the Rise – Highest Payouts to Cyber Criminals


Imagine you’re chugging away at work when your computer dings; you’ve got mail. It’s your boss. He needs you to download an attachment, so you do. Uh-oh that cleverly disguised email was just that – a disguise. It was spam, and you’ve actually downloaded ransomware onto your business computer, which threatens the entire network. Everything remains blocked until such a time that a ransom is paid or the system is restored to a previous backup.

Because of its sophistication, ransomware is a popular choice for hackers looking to make a quick buck. In Canada, the above-mentioned scenario actually happened a lot. Hackers were able to hack into corporate computer systems by first posing as the employee’s boss. They used the executive’s public social media profiles to appear that they were who they were posing as. All-in-all, the ransomware attacks scored big for hackers who were able to force the businesses to pay up in bitcoin, lest lose their data.

Ransomware on the Rise - Highest Payouts to Cyber Criminals

Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre, a federal government agency, says ransomware cost Canada $19 million in 2014. Daniel Williams, an employee of the agency reports that less than three percent of ransomware cases are even reported, and that losses are closer to $1 billion. The secret to not falling victim is comprehensive cybersecurity, including a dns firewall which is more flexible and prevents damage and data exfiltration caused by phishing.

JP Morgan, Chase & Co., Fidelity and The Wall Street Journal

It was the largest cyber-attack of financial firms in the history of the United States. There’s no exact dollar amount for how much the three hackers stole, but they were running payment processors to the tune of $18 million. The criminals concealed at least $100 million in foreign bank accounts.

They made these huge sums of money by “pumping up stock prices, running online casinos, payment processing for criminals, managing an illegal bitcoin exchange, and the laundering of money through at least 75 shell companies and accounts around the world,” reports IB Times. US Attorney Preet Bharara said “It is no longer merely for a quick payout, but hacking to support a diversified criminal conglomerate.”

Hollywood Hospital Forced to Pay $17,000

The Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center didn’t expect to find their systems held hostage earlier this year. They didn’t participate in best practices, such as backing up their data every night. So when the hacking encrypted their data, there was no way to access emails, digital patient records, or even operate some medical devices. Everything was down for two weeks until authorities suggested they go ahead and pay the ransom, at which time the hackers sent them the decryption code.

If the hospital had backups, they wouldn’t have been forced to pay. Backing up is easy and there are free cloning tools to make it even easier. Don’t face the same fate as those who’ve ended up paying the ransom to hackers; instead, do a nightly backup and ensure you always have fresh copies of your data.

Hackers Make More Money than the Average Household Salary

According to MarketWatch, “A hacker can rake in $90,000 in just one month.” The median household income in the United States is $52,000 per year. So that’s about 20 times more than the average household’s earnings that hackers are earning; although, it’s hard to call stolen funds earnings.

It’s definitely a problem, and it needs to be solved. Your best defense against ransomware is cybersecurity that is built to deal with these complicated malware issues.

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