Security Market Segment LS
Wednesday, 28 April 2021 07:05

Ransomware gangs extracted US$18b in ransoms in 2020, sec firm claims Featured

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Ransomware gangs extracted US$18b in ransoms in 2020, sec firm claims Image by Joseph Mucira from Pixabay

Billions of dollars of damage has been caused by ransomware to both business and home users in the last 12 months, the New Zealand-headquartered security firm Emsisoft says in figures released on Tuesday, adding that the average ransom demand increased by more than 80% during the same period, with a total of US$18 billion (A$23.2 billion) paid in ransoms globally.

In addition, there were further costs incurred due to the downtime. The company said it based its figures on submissions to the ransomware identification service ID Ransomware, with 506,185 submissions made during 2020.

The costs were placed in two categories: the minimum cost and the estimated cost, with the latter taking into account Emsisoft's belief that only a quarter of incidents end up being reported.

emsisoft ransom one

While the US, expectedly, was at the top of the list with a minimum cost of US$920.4 million when both businesses and home users were counted, Australia was eighth, with minimum costs of US$424.1 million.

The company added a note of caution about the figures, saying: "While all figures contained in this report are based on the best information currently available, truly accurate projections are impossible due to limited datasets, information sharing limitations, the absence of incident disclosure requirements, and so on.

"Consequently, this report is not intended to be an accurate estimate of the true global cost of ransomware. Instead, we wish to highlight the scale of the problem.

emsisoft ransom two

"By drawing attention to the enormous economic impact of ransomware, we want to encourage companies, law enforcement agencies and lawmakers to be more proactive in combating one of the world’s greatest cyber security threats."

Brett Callow, a ransomware researcher with Emsisoft, said: "The number of incidents has remained fairly flat which, given the challenges caused by COVID-19 and remote working, could be perceived as a win.

"But it's a very, very small win. The fact that extremely large number of public and private sector companies continue to fall victim isn't at all encouraging.

emsisoft ransom three

"And nor is it surprising. Ransom demands have increased significantly, so threat actors are better resourced and more motivated than ever before.

"As we've said many times before, the only way to put a spoke in the ransomware industry's wheel is to cut off the flow of cash. If attacks become unprofitable, they'll stop. And that means companies' must stop paying ransoms."


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Sam Varghese

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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