This year -- 2021 -- marked a "new era of ransomware," said Vladimir Kuskov, head of threat exploration at Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky. This is reflected in security incident requests handled by Kaspersky's Global Emergency Response Team (GERT) between January and November 2021.
Kaspersky reported 46.7 percent of the security incidents that GERT handled in the first 11 months of 2021 were related to ransomware. Comparatively, Kaspersky attributed ransomware to 37.9 percent of security incidents that GERT handled for all of 2020 and 34 percent for 2019.
In addition, the government and industrial sectors have been the most common targets for ransomware attacks in 2021 to date, Kaspersky indicated. These industries accounted for nearly 50 percent of ransomware-related incident response requests that GERT has handled.
Ransomware Trends to Watch in 2022
Cybercriminals are increasingly requesting large ransoms, targeting high-profile organizations and facing pressure from politicians and law enforcement agencies, Kaspersky noted. As such, hackers look poised to prioritize efficiency as they prepare to launch ransomware attacks in 2022.
Hackers may construct Linux builds of ransomware to maximize their attack surface in 2022, Kaspersky said. This was previously done by ransomware groups RansomExx and DarkSide.
Furthermore, cybercriminals may prioritize "financial blackmail" in 2022, Kaspersky pointed out. Financial blackmail occurs when cybercriminals threaten to leak information about organizations when they are finalizing a merger or acquisition, making plans to go public or undergoing other important financial events.
How to Protect Against Ransomware Attacks in 2022
Kaspersky offered several recommendations to help organizations keep pace with cybercriminals and guard against evolving ransomware attacks, including:
- Avoid exposing remote desktop services to public networks.
- Keep device software up to date.
- Educate employees about ransomware attacks and the dangers associated with them.
Cybercriminals are refining their tactics to ensure their ransomware attacks will remain profitable in 2022, Kaspersky security expert Fedor Sinitsyn said. However, organizations can plan ahead for ransomware attacks and take appropriate steps to limit their impact in 2022.