Skip to main content

Hackers are now favoring ransomware over personal data theft

IBM’s latest X-Force Threat Intelligence Index report reveals that more than 2.9 billion records were leaked through publicly disclosed incidents in 2017. While that sounds horribly bad, there’s a bright side to this stormy disclosure: the number is 25 percent lower than the amount of records leaked in 2016. Why? Because hackers are shifting over to ransomware. They’re becoming more focused on holding files hostage for money than on unleashing all that data to the dark markets. 

According to IBM, this shift to ransomware cost corporations more than $8 billion globally during 2017, a number derived from downtime, ransom payments, and other impacts on day-to-day business. The global logistics and transportation industries alone lost “millions of dollars” in revenue during 2017 due to ransomware attacks. 

Ransomware is a type of malware that infiltrates a network and encrypts files on connected PCs. These files become unrecoverable, and require a “key” generated by the hacker to be released from captivity. These keys are provided after a payment using cryptocurrency, adding to the overall cost corporations incur due to downtime. Hiring a third party to recover the files may or may not work, depending on the level of encryption. 

“With the potentially irreversible encryption lock of crypto-ransomware, victims without up-to-date backups often choose to pay the ransom their attackers demand,” the report states. “Losing one’s files on personal devices may cost a few hundred dollars, but that effect extends much further for organizations where infected users could cause the company to lose massive amounts of data, and possibly to have to pay the criminals considerable sums of money to get it back.” 

The report reveals that many organizations keep cryptocurrency on hand so they can resolve the problem quickly and reduce costly downtime. Law enforcement agencies discourage payments to hackers, but the rising ransomware “epidemic” is getting to the point where it may potentially cost corporations across the globe more than $11.5 billion annually by 2019, according to research by Cybersecurity Ventures. Malware, by contrast, values leaked personal data over the potential financial gain of locking sensitive data on corporate networks. 

In addition to ransomware, the report covers network attack trends, inadvertent insider incidents, insider-inflicted breaches, cybercrime, and cryptocurrency. One of the more alarming entries is the section about misconfigured cloud servers, which resulted in the exposure of more than two billion records in 2017, a whopping 424-percent increase over 2016. The problem actually dates back to 2015, as researchers found they could access the data on these cloud servers without the need for a username or password. 

In 2017 alone, 19 incidents regarding misconfigured cloud storage breached 345,850,453 records, equaling 2.2TB worth of data. Meanwhile, misconfigured cloud databases enabled 11 incidents exposing 566,402,270 records equaling 1.2TB worth of data. Misconfigured rsync, NAS, and backup solutions caused five incidents exposing 393,434,309 records equaling to 1TB of data. 

Financial services saw the largest issues in 2017 for the second year in a row. They experienced the highest volume of security incidents while falling in third place regarding actual cyberattacks. Information and communications technology industries experienced the highest number of attacks and the second-largest in security incidents. Manufacturing fell to third place in both attacks and incidents, followed by professional services. 

Editors' Recommendations

Kevin Parrish
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then…
Corsair just stepped up its keyboard game — in a big way
The Corsair K65 Plus Wireless keyboard on a pink background.

I've had a contentious relationship with Corsair keyboards over the last couple of years. The landscape for mechanical keyboards has been changing, and Corsair (along with brands like SteelSeries and Razer) felt behind the curve, selling the same standard mechanical keyboards for the same high prices that were available years ago.

That's changing with the Corsair K65 Plus Wireless.

Read more
Great, now even PDFs will have AI built into them
The new AI Assistant built into Adobe's Acrobat.

Adobe is delving deeper into implementing AI in its most popular services, this time with a new Assistant AI for Acrobat.
The generative AI-powered conversational engine is available today in beta and will make available a host of tools to heighten how people process and understand documents in Adobe. The features will be available in Acrobat Standard, Pro Individual, and Teams subscription plans on desktop and web during the beta period at no additional cost. The AI features are even coming to Reader, the company's free PDF viewer.
Some of the highlight features that will launch with the beta Adobe Acrobat AI Assistant tool include:

Questions-and-answer recommendations from AI assistant based on content within a document.
Highlighting important details within a document.
Creating citations and summaries where you can click and confirm a source within a document.
Clickable links that help you easily navigate through long documents and find the important information you need.
Reformatting information from documents for other mediums including emails, presentations, reports, etc.

Read more
Normally $2039, this Lenovo laptop just had its price slashed to $599
The Lenovo ThinkPad L14 on a white background.

Lenovo frequently has some of the best laptop deals around providing you don’t mind the company’s estimated value system making original prices look overly high. Look past that though and you’ll love being able to buy a Lenovo ThinkPad L14 laptop for $599. According to Lenovo, that’s a huge reduction of $1,440 from $2,039. Whatever the true discount, what we do know is that $599 is a pretty great price for a productive laptop. Here’s what you need to know about it before you buy.

Why you should buy the Lenovo ThinkPad L14
The Lenovo ThinkPad L14 laptop offers some decent hardware for the price. That includes an AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 5675U processor along with 16GB of memory. For storage, a 512GB SSD means you can easily store all your files safely without having to rely on cloud storage. There’s also a 14-inch full HD screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 300 nits of brightness, 45% NTSC and anti-glare properties.

Read more