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In 2020, ransomware hackers multiplied their average payment to $312K and the situation is only getting worse

Ransomware hackers increased their annual payment three times to that of 2019. According to Palo Alto networks, hackers are targeting more vulnerable victims and increasing their attacks.

As per a study released on Wednesday by the cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks, ransomware hackers are obtaining huge payouts more than ever. Ransomware hacking activities have been increasing day by day and have been active for more than a decade. These cybercriminals have made hacking the business and constantly threaten victims using malicious software. They are earning a handsome amount of money via hacking and their average payout is continuously increasing every passing year.

Hackers hack the private information of the victims and disable their computer programs until a ransom is paid. However according to Ryan Olson, Palo Alto Networks' VP of threat intelligence, cybercriminals have lately concentrated on more obvious targets, including healthcare institutions, and have adopted very violent strategies that force victims to pay large amounts.

The ransomware business strategy is clearly evolving, as said by Olson. Hackers make sure to blackmail the victim to the point where they would agree to pay whatever it takes to resolve the problem.

In 2019, the average payment of ransomware was nearly $115,123. In 2020, this figure multiplied three folds based on leaked data, the ranking of ransomware forms on the dark-web, and internal data obtained from several networks tracked by Palo Alto Networks since 2015.

According to a recent report, the highest ransom paid to the hacker was $10 million in 2020. The victim was not recognized by Palo Alto Networks but it was claimed that the US health organization paid such a huge amount. Last year, due to the pandemic, the hospital organizations were more targeted than any other person and there are some institutions that are ready to recover their software at a wholesome cost.

After a massive attack on one of the largest hospitals in the US, the FBI released a warning in October regarding ransomware attacks targeting hospitals. The majority of the hackers follow a similar approach. First, they use phishing sites to manipulate employees in order to gain their login information, through that information they get access to victim’s systems where they install malware to encrypts the data and threaten them to pay a ransom.

However, the study pointed out a troubling pattern in ransomware attacks over the last year: cybercriminals are largely using a technique known as "double extortion.” In this technique, hackers blackmailed victims to pay a ransom otherwise their information will be leaked online. The fear of loss of data will make the victim pay whatever it cost to restore the credentials which is helping the hacker to demand more amount. A broad variety of cybercriminal groups around the world have been leveraging a significant weakness in Microsoft Exchange Server, according to the study. Hackers have been exploiting the Exchange security vulnerabilities to execute ransomware. On Thursday, strikes on Exchange customers have been observed.

Photo: Getty

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