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A report released by antivirus company Emisoft on October 1 sheds light on the increase in ransomware attacks on government and municipal entities. Per the report, in the first nine months of 2019, at least 621 government entities, healthcare service providers and school districts, colleges, and universities were affected by ransomware. Out of these, 68 state, county and municipal entities have been impacted, 491 ransomware attacks were targeted on healthcare providers and there were at least 62 incidents involving school districts and other educational establishments.

“There is no reason to believe that attacks will become less frequent in the near future,” said Fabian Wosar, CTO at Emsisoft. “Organizations have a very simple choice to make: prepare now or pay later.

Though there is no public dataset available for an estimate, however the Emisoft report estimates the total combined cost of all 621 incidents would be $186,300,000. Winnebago County’s Chief Information Officer, Gus Gentner, recently stated, “Statistics let us know that the average ransomware incident costs $8.1 million and 287 days to recover. We cannot comment on the accuracy of that statement but, if correct, it would put the total cost at more than $5 billion.”

Trends identified by the report

  • Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting software commonly used by MSPs and other third-party service providers.
  • The average ransom demand has continued to increase in 2019.
  • Insured entities may be more likely to pay demands which result in ransomware being more profitable than it otherwise would be.
  • Email and attachments and Remote Desktop Protocol continue to be the attack vector of choice.

The Emisoft report suggests two workarounds to reduce recovery costs. These workarounds may, in some cases, either completely eliminate the need for a ransom to be paid or enable recovery for significantly less than the amount of the ransom demand. The report also calls on improving coordination and communication channels between the private sector and law enforcement agencies.

In sync with the Emisoft report last week, the US Senate passed a bill called the DHS Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act. Per this bill, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will maintain cyber hunt and incident response teams to help private and public entities defend against cyber-attacks such as ransomware attacks.

“The Senate passing the DHS Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act is an important step in protecting Upstate New York school districts from the swaths of ransomware attacks that take hostage the personal information and vital data of our students, school employees and local governments,” stated Senator Schumer in a press release.

The bill previously passed the House and is expected to be signed into law by the President in the coming months.

You can read the full report on Emisoft’s official blog post.

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Content Marketing Editor at Packt Hub. I blog about new and upcoming tech trends ranging from Data science, Web development, Programming, Cloud & Networking, IoT, Security and Game development.