Understanding Ransomware Attacks | Protecting Personal Data
Ransomware attacks lead to hundreds of data breach incidents that may impact you and millions of other Americans. What are companies doing to thwart such disruptive events? Maybe not enough.
Globally, the number of ransomware attacks and data breaches has risen in the last few years with no signs of cyberattacks waning. In the recent wave of cyber threats, governments and public and private companies have struggled to implement robust network security to protect citizens and consumers, which compromises the personal data of employees and individuals worldwide.
Ransomware accounted for 30 percent of all U.S.-based cyberattacks reported to and confirmed by Verizon data breach researchers in 2020. It is almost every day that we read about a new ransomware attack, though many still don’t understand how the hackers are operating and how we can best prevent such dangerous cyberactivity.
To learn more about the impacts of recent ransomware attacks and data breach incidents, contact The Lyon Firm. Joe Lyon is a class action privacy attorney investigating data breach claims on behalf of plaintiffs nationwide.
How Do Ransomware Attacks Work?
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim’s data or company files. After the hacker finds a way to install this malware onto a company network, through various means, they will often demand a ransom to restore access to the locked or inaccessible data. Upon payment, the decryption key for the files is then meant to be provided.
There are a number of ways this malware can reach a network, including through phishing email scams, as well as other more elaborate forms of malware that find network security vulnerabilities and can infect a network without needing to fool users.
A less-common malware variation, called leakware or doxware, is used when an attacker threatens to publicize sensitive data on a victim’s hard drive unless a ransom is promptly paid.
Who is Behind Ransomware Attacks?
In some high-profile data breach cases, hackers will claim responsibility for an attack. That is not the norm, however. Most cybercriminals want to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, and demand that a ransom be paid to an untraceable dark web account or cryptocurrency account that may be difficult to link to any individuals.
Who are Hackers Targeting?
Money is the name of the game in 99 percent of cases, so criminals seek the most valuable information to highjack. Healthcare systems are targeted quite often for this very reason. On the open market, hackers consider personal health information some of the most valuable data.
“Low hanging fruit” is also of interest to cybercriminals, and even though the threat of cyberattacks is not a new phenomenon, many companies and healthcare organizations fail to properly protect their networks, and hackers take advantage of the negligent security.
How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks
There are some defensive steps companies and individuals can take to prevent repel ransomware attacks, in conjunction with other basic network security measures:
- Keep any operating system patched and with recent security updates to limit vulnerabilities.
- Do not install software or grant it administrative privileges unless you are certain of what it is and what it does.
- Install antivirus software, which detects malware programs like ransomware before they can breach your system.
- Frequently back up important files. Make backups frequent and automatic. If you become a victim, but have backed up data, the hacker may not have any leverage in demanding a ransom.
Data Breach Lawsuits
Regardless of where the threat is originating from, whether it’s a foreign-born syndicate or a homegrown cybercriminal, companies have a responsibility to protect the collected and stored personal data of their employees and clients.
The U.S. government and consumer safety advocates are urging individuals and companies to educate themselves on the basics of ransomware attacks, and to bolster both personal and work network security.
Joe Lyon is an invasion of privacy attorney investigating data breach incidents and is actively filing class action data breach lawsuits on behalf of plaintiffs nationwide. If a company fails to properly protect your personal information, and data is leaked, you may have a viable data privacy claim.
To learn more about recent security breach incidents and to join current class action data privacy lawsuits, contact The Lyon Firm. Call for a free and confidential consultation.