record year for ransomware, haunting global companies

According to the company Chainalysis, the amounts paid by victims reached “a record level” of 1.1 billion dollars in 2023. French authorities anticipate a considerable number of threats with the Paris Olympic Games.

More numerous, more sophisticated and more expensive: attacks Ransomware Targeting companies registered a sharp increase in 2023, after a pause in 2022, according to several studies published in February. “It is one of the main threats” in terms of cybersecurity in the world, says Todd Carroll, author of the annual report by French cybersecurity start-up Cybelangel, to AFP, which reports a 40% increase in ransom requests. AND “We are still far from having reached the peak”he warns.

Ransomware or “ransomware”exploits a company’s or individual’s security vulnerabilities to encrypt and lock their computer systems, demanding a ransom to unlock them. “The main reason for this increase is that companies are willing to pay”, analyzes Todd Carroll. A survey carried out by Cohesity among 900 IT decision-makers and cybersecurity managers at large Anglo-Saxon companies shows that almost 80% of respondents say they were victims of a ransomware attack between last July and December.

“Almost 90% of them say they paid a ransom to restore their data, despite their organization’s non-payment policy”, specifies the American company, specialist in data management and protection. According to the American company Chainalysis, a specialist in the study of cryptocurrency transactions, the amounts paid by victims reached “a record level” of 1.1 billion dollars in 2023. Far from 456.8 million dollars in 2022, the lowest level since 2019. “75% of ransoms paid were $1 million or more”she details in her latest study, which indicates that large companies are the main targets.

US$2.6 million with ransom

In its report, CybelAngel estimates that the average cost of an attack was $1.82 million for a company. The bill rises to US$2.6 million if we include ransom payments. Among the sectors most affected are civil construction, information technologies, education and health. Last year, CybelAngel identified 62 ransomware hacking groups involved in more than 5,000 attacks. They operate in small groups – from a few people to a dozen – mainly from Russia, China and countries in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

The increase in these attacks is also explained by the development of the on-demand software model (Raas, Ransomware as a Service) allowing ransomware creators to make it available to other hackers, “affiliates”, who take care of the attacks before sharing the gains. In France, 546 investigations relating to this type of attack were opened in 2023, an increase of 30% compared to 2022, according to the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office, which has national jurisdiction. In its predictions for 2024, Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky warns that cybercriminals could target even bigger targets: “big companies” AND “big players in logistics” face increased risks.

French authorities also anticipate a considerable number of threats with the Paris Olympic Games (26 July to 11 August). In early December, a simulation exercise of several simultaneous high-profile ransomware attacks was organized, bringing together several ministries (Interior, Justice, Health, etc.). Others will come to the opening ceremony.

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