The number of ransomware attacks climbed by 20 per cent in the first half of the year. Many victims chose to pay up. Here's what you can do if it happens to you.
As the pandemic trashes the world economy, one business is booming. The number of ransomware attacks, where hackers encrypt a user’s data files and then demand payment to restore access, climbed by 20 per cent in the first half of the year to reach 121.4 million assaults, according to data security firm SonicWall.
Many of the victims chose to pay up. In June, the University of California said it paid $1.14 million to extortionists who’d besieged servers at its medical school. CWT, a travel-management company, handed over $4.5 million worth of Bitcoin last month to resolve a hack, Reuters reported. Garmin Ltd., which sells portable devices linked to global positioning systems, suffered outages in the final week of July it said were due to a cyber attack. While the company hasn’t commented on how it solved the interruptions, various media reports put the ransom demand at $10 million.
In the past four years, Kivu Consulting has been involved in more than 700 ransomware incidents. Last year, the cyber security firm was the agent for 143 payments worth more than $17 million. So what should you do when the email arrives saying you’ve been hacked, your data has been compromised and if you don’t pay a ransom, your servers will remain frozen? I caught up with Winston Krone, Kivu’s global managing director, to find out. The following is a lightly edited transcript of our telephone conversation this week.