Ransomware Attacks In Our Digital World

Ransomware Attacks In Our Digital World

Ransomware Attacks In Our Digital World

The rise of ransomware attacks is on the rise and is not slowing down. Over the last month, the U.S. has been the target of three major cyberattacks.


Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts a victim’s files. The cybercriminal then demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment. Users are shown instructions for how to pay in order to get the decryption key.


The impact from these attacks can be felt by more than just the victim. Read more about these three major ransomware attacks.

1. Colonial Pipeline

A ransomware attack shut down one of the US’s largest fuel pipelines (Colonial Pipeline) for six days. This was one of the most disruptive ransomware attacks on record. It caused fears about gas shortages and prompted panic buying at the pump to the entire East Coast. Gas prices jumped, pumps ran dry, and the US government had to step in and tell people not to fill plastic bags with fuel.

Who’s behind this? DarkSide a criminal hacking group based in Russia. They managed to walk away with $4.4 million in ransom money after the Colonial Pipeline hack.


2. Microsoft

Microsoft, the tech giant revealed that hackers compromised the US Agency for International Development’s account with Constant Contact. After accessing the email marketing service they targeted around 3,000 email accounts. This affected over 150 government agencies. At least 23 other countries also fell victim to the hack.

Who’s behind this? Nobelium a criminal hacking group based in Russia.


3. A Meat Company

A ransomware attack caused the world’s largest meatpacker to close down all of its US beef plants. This affected at least 20% of US beef production. JBS says there is no evidence its information has been compromised and backup servers were not affected. The price of beef and pork is already on the rise due to the pandemic so this could increase prices even more.

Who’s behind this? The White House has said that the ransomware attack was likely carried out by a Russia-based criminal organization and that it is dealing with the Russian government on the matter.


The Federal Government has tried to regulate cybersecurity gaps however the ransomware attacks are not ending. Companies are left with no choice but to pay off ransom or face major disruptions.


Who is the Main Target for Ransomware?

Everyone can be the target for a ransomware attack if you have attractive data and vulnerable cybersecurity. Here are the top 5 business sectors that are ransomware targets:

  1. Healthcare – Healthcare units and hospitals are ready to pay the ransom quickly as they need their patient’s data that are in a critical stage of life.
  2. The Legal Sector – Law firms are often still catching up in security practices for their data leaving them more vulnerable for cyberattacks with high valued data stolen.
  3. Farming and Food Production – COVID has revealed weaknesses that hint at vulnerabilities. Farming and food supply may not be fully up to date on cybersecurity practices. Once a cybercriminal find this vulnerability they will cause a large scale reaction to everyone that relies on that food.
  4. Education – These organizations have social security numbers, medical records, intellectual property, research, and financial data of faculty, staff, and students. Cybercriminals are interested in stealing this information and most of the successful attacks have smaller IT teams.
  5. Manufacturing – Many of the companies don’t have a division overseeing security at factory management systems.


In case you’ve never heard of it, Have I Been Pwned, or HIBP as it is widely known is an online service run out of Queensland in Australia by a data breach researcher called Troy Hunt. “Have I Been Pwned” partners with the FBI!


Ransomware Guidance and Resources



Do you want to help fight against Ransomware? Here are some certifications you could start with.

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