Cybersecurity firm Sophos has released a new report, “The State of Ransomware 2022”, they reported ransomware attacks have nearly doubled since 2020 and higher education organizations have proven to be most at risk. According to the FBI and the Fordham IT Security & Assurance Homepage, a ransomware attack is when malicious actors prevent users from accessing their data, typically done by encrypting their files with a secret key.
It is almost always impossible to decrypt the files, leaving organizations with no choice but to pay the ransom; however, paying a ransom is not recommended as there’s no guarantee that you’ll get all your information back. In fact, out of the companies surveyed for this report that paid a ransom/had insurance pay a ransom, only 61% (on average) of data their was restored. The best way to mitigate a ransomware attack is by having multiple backups of user information across multiple networks.
Ransomware is getting increasingly popular amongst hackers, but why? While these attacks are easier to execute, ransomware has become a common attack because hackers know an increasing number of companies now rely on cyber insurance, which has the funds to pay a ransom if necessary. As of 2022, the average payout is $812,360. Out of the companies with ransomware coverage, 40% had the full ransom paid for them by insurance.
Thousands of businesses were surveyed across 16 industries, and out of the 410 higher education institutions questioned, 64% were hit with a ransomware attack in 2021. Not only are universities more likely to pay a ransom, (50% as opposed to national average of 46%) but higher education had the slowest recovery time across the board, half of respondents said data restoration took over a month.
In order to best protect yourself it is crucial to install and regularly update anti-virus and anti-malware software, all Fordham students and faculty can view recommendations for free antivirus applications on Fordham’s Antivirus Protection page. Additionally, saving all your documents and assignments onto more than one platform prevents your data from being lost forever in case the university is affected by ransomware. For more information, check out my blog post for World Backup Day here.