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Tuesday, 14 July 2020 09:29

Emsisoft predicts about 11% of ransomware attacks will result in data theft

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Emsisoft predicts about 11% of ransomware attacks will result in data theft Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Security firm Emsisoft says it has calculated that on average there is slightly more than a one in ten chance of data being stolen during a ransomware attack.

In a blog post, the company said it had drawn the conclusion based on 100,001 submissions about ransomware attacks by groups that take aim at companies and public sector agencies, which it had received between January and June.

Of these submissions, 11.642, or a shade more than 11%, were from attacks by groups that were overtly stealing data, the New Zealand headquartered Emsisoft said.

Practically all ransomware attacks target the Windows operating system; recently, a rare case of Mac ransomware was reported, with the malware spreading through pirated software.

Apart from combing the disruption of a ransomware attack with the long-term effect of a data breach, the exfiltration+encryption attacks also created a path for future attacks and other criminal activity, Emsisoft claimed.

"The stolen information could be used to spear phish victim organisations’ clients and business partners or be used to commit other forms of fraud, such as business email compromise," it explained. "In other words, one crime can lead to many."

Looking at what this data meant to the US public sector - a sector that Emsisoft has researched thoroughly - the firm said that in 2019, while there attacks on at least 996 government entities, educational establishment and healthcare providers, only in one case was data exfiltrated and published: the City of Pensacole in Florida.

If the same number was affected in 2020, then, based on the sample studied, one could expect about 106 to suffer data publication and theft, Emsisoft reasoned.

Additionally, the company said, all ransomware groups were able to exfiltrate data, but while some used the overt theft of stolen data to threaten victims and extort payment, other groups were content with covert theft.

Emsisoft offered the following suggestions for organisations to guard against ransomware attacks:

  • Use multi-factor authentication everywhere that it can be used;
  • Limit admin rights;
  • Disable RDP (remote desktop protocol) if not needed and lock it down if it is;
  • Segment the network;
  • Use email and Web filtering;
  • Patch promptly;
  • Disable PowerShell when not needed;
  • Assume the perimeter will be breached and ensure tools and processes are in place to monitor for indications of compromise;
  • Ensure that MSPs (managed service providers) and other service providers adhere to best practices; and
  • Conduct security awareness training on an ongoing basis.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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