The number of ransomware attacks, in which a bad actor seizes a company or individual’s data and withholds it until a ransom is paid, have increased by 93% each week over the last 12 months, according to Check Point. North America has experienced a 32% surge in ransomware attacks in the last six months alone.
"The ransomware business is booming. We’re seeing global surges in ransomware across every major geography, especially in the last two months," said Lotem Finkelsteen, head of threat intelligence at Check Point Software. "We believe the trend is driven by scores of new entrants into the ransomware business.
"Unfortunately, it’s only going to get worse, as I don’t think we’ve seen the peak for ransomware attack," Finkelsteen added. "The threat actors behind ransomware aren’t just becoming bigger, they’re becoming better at what they do."
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Public awareness of the threat posed by ransomware attacks has increased in recent weeks following incidents that targeted Colonial Pipeline, a key East Coast fuel supplier, and JBS, one of the country’s largest meat suppliers. In both cases, the companies were effectively shut down for extended periods.
Russia-linked hackers were implicated in both attacks, prompting President Biden to warn Russian President Vladimir Putin to take action against the responsible groups.
An average of 1,210 companies per week were targeted in ransomware attacks in June, according to Check Point, marking the highest average total of any month over the last year. The education, transportation and retail industries have experienced the largest percentage increases in ransomware attacks.