Ransomware attacks have been increasing since late December 2018 and attacks have been reported with increasing frequency as 2019 has progressed. Ransomware may have fallen out of favor with cybercriminals in 2018, but it is once again a firm favorite as it was in 2016 and 2017.
In recent months there has been an extensive ransomware campaign targeting local government offices, cities, and municipalities. These attacks have caused massive disruption, and many have resulted in ransoms being paid.
In the past few days alone, three ransomware attacks have been reported that have seen more than $1,200,000 in ransoms paid. Riviera Beach in Florida paid a ransom of $600,000 for the keys to unlock its encrypted files and Lake City in Florida paid around $460,000. Most recently, La Porte County in Indiana paid a ransom demand of $130,000.
These are just three of many. According to the United States Conference of Mayors, in the past 6 years, more than 170 city, county, or state government systems have been taken out of action as a result of ransomware attacks and there have been 22 attacks so far in 2019.
Cybercriminals will continue to conduct attacks as long as it is profitable to do so. When ransoms are paid, it simply encourages further attacks. The United States Conference of Mayors has decided to take a stand. The organization represents more than 1,400 majors across the United States and has vowed that in the event of attack, ransom demands will not be paid.
That is a necessary step to take to de-incentivize attacks but it could potentially be very costly. In 2018, the City of Atlanta was attacked with ransomware and refused to pay the $50,000 ransom demand. The city has ended up spending tens of millions of dollars on recovery.
The high cost of recovery without paying the ransom could prove too much for small cities, which is why several have been advised by their insurers to pay the ransoms.
In such cases, help is required from the federal government. The majors have urged Congress to pass the State Cyber Resiliency Act, which would give state and local governments the support needed to help them implement their cyber resiliency plans
What is also needed is greater investment in cybersecurity defenses. Attacks are being conducted because there are security holes that can be easily exploited. Until those holes are plugged, the attacks will continue.
TitanHQ can help plug those holes and thwart ransomware attacks by blocking the main attack vectors. SpamTitan is a powerful email security solution that blocks email-threats at source and keeps inboxes threat free. WebTitan protects users while online and blocks malicious websites and malware downloads. With both of these powerful, but low-cost solutions in place, you will be well protected against ransomware attacks.