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One in 10 firms were hit by ransomware in 2023: study

Each firm reported an average of 1,158 attacks weekly, translating to more than 60,000 cases annually, Check Point survey says

One in 10 firms were hit by ransomware in 2023: study
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

Companies across the world saw a surge in ransomware attacks in 2023, soaring 33% from the previous year, research by a cybersecurity firm found.

One in 10 organizations worldwide was hit by attempted ransomware attacks in 2023, up from one in every 13 the previous year, Check Point Software said in a report. 

Organizations around the world each saw over 60,000 attacks on average, or about 1,158 attacks per organization per week. 

Data in the report was compiled from ThreatCloud AI, Check Point’s Big Data Intelligence engine, which aggregates and analyzes big data telemetry and millions of indicators of compromise (IoCs) every day. 

Ransomware is malware that encrypts files on an infected network using a secret key known only to the attacker, who would then demand a ransom in exchange for data to be decrypted. 

The Check Point Research report showed ransomware continues to be one of the biggest cyber threats to organizations.

In 2023, a notable shift occurred with some attackers concentrating on data theft and purely extortion-based campaigns. Instead of using traditional encryption-based ransomware, cases of attackers demanding payment in return for not publicly releasing the stolen data increased in 2023. 

The sector-wise ransomware attack also saw a shift. The education and research sector, previously a prime target, saw a 12% decrease in attacks, and has remained on top of the list with the highest volume of cyberattacks at 2,046 attacks per organization every week.

The biggest spike was seen in the retail and wholesale sector, which reported a rise of 22% in weekly ransomware attacks, registering 1,062 attacks per organization every week.

Some of the major causes for the increased attacks are said to be large volumes of consumer data, complex supply chain networks, and insufficient cybersecurity measures. 

The healthcare sector also reported a 3% increase in attacks. 

Other sectors that are the top targets of ransomware are the military and government, communications, internet service providers, and finance and banking. 

The impact of ransomware was seen all across, with the Asia-Pacific reporting the highest ratio as 11% of firms were targeted by ransomware, while the Americas showed the largest increase—climbing from 5% of organizations in 2022 to 9% in the past year, the report found. 

Check Point noted that artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a powerful tool for defending against sophisticated and ever-evolving cyberattacks. 

“One of the key areas where AI is making a significant impact is in threat detection and analysis. AI-powered cybersecurity systems excel at identifying anomalies and detecting previously unseen attack patterns, thereby mitigating potential risks before they escalate,” it said. 

In an advisory, Check Point said a secure data backup solution, cybersecurity awareness training, up-to-date security patches, a strong password policy, effective anti-ransomware solutions, and a better threat prevention mechanism can keep organizations safe from ransomware attacks.

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