The Rise of Ransomware Attacks: Strategies for Prevention and Recovery

Cyber space is no longer primarily a playground, with even the most frequent scrollers now logging on for work purposes as well. As the digital sphere continues to expand and people spend more and more time online, the risk of ransomware attacks increases.

Today, many companies utilize the digital space to communicate and store data. And while this can be beneficial for business, it also exposes vulnerabilities – ones that hackers often exploit.

In 2021, SonicWall recorded 495 million ransomware attacks, a nearly 150% boost over the previous year. Cybersecurity experts are struggling to keep up as cyber criminals quickly gain more advanced capabilities – and therefore, greater access.

When it comes to harmful data breaches and ransomware attacks, the telecommunications industry is certainly not exempt. To protect against system infiltration, and the distrust it inspires in customers, a proactive approach is needed. Telcom Insurance Group has trusted partners that will assist in protecting your networks and in the event of a breach, we’re here to help. Contact us for more information!

At Telcom Insurance Group, our top priority remains keeping our industry professionals both informed and protected. Keep reading to learn more about ransomware attacks and to discover how we can help prevent them.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software, also known as malware. It prevents the user or business from accessing their computer system or the data that is stored. If the operating system has become a victim of malware, the computer or data may become locked, stolen, or encrypted until the victim pays a ransom fee to the attacker.

Ransomware has quickly become one of the most prominent types of malware, growing in its complexity and profitability over time.


The Road to Ransomware

The first documented ransomware attack differs greatly from the more advanced methods employed today. Executed in 1989, an evolutionary biologist named Joseph L. Popp sent 20,000 infected computer disks to attendees at an international AIDS conference.

The discs were falsely labeled “AIDS Information–Introductory Diskettes,” so attendees ran the malware without a second thought. A $189 ransom (worth $465 today) was demanded of the unsuspecting victims. Popp requested that the money be sent to a post office box, which was eventually traced back to him.

Popp’s tactics soon seemed archaic as more advanced encryption methods became the new normal. These continue growing more sophisticated in their approach and more profitable in their results.

Ransomware: A For-Profit Industry

The complexities of ransomware attacks are directly correlated to profitability. The introduction of cryptocurrency, a digital currency that uses encryption to secure and verify transactions, has allowed cybercriminals to remain anonymous and untraceable.

According to “Tracking Ransomware End-to-End,” a study by Google, cyber criminals can make over $1 million per month through ransomware. While some strains of ransomware are more profitable than others, a Bitcoin blockchain analysis showed that the two most popular strains of ransomware made $14.7 million combined over one year.

Targets and Tactics: Significant Telecom Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware can potentially destroy a company, leaving an impact that lasts long beyond the incident. The financial burden, paired with the damage to reputation, can be enough to close a business for good.

While every industry is susceptible, the telecommunications industry is particularly vulnerable. Because the services provided are essential for communication, the very nature of telecommunications makes the industry a prime target for cybercriminals.

Telecom Argentina: A Costly Compromise

Telecom Argentina, one of the country’s largest internet service providers, faced a ransomware attack in 2020. After gaining access to the company’s customer relationship management software, the malware spread to over 18,000 workstations and encrypted key files along the way.

REvil, a cybercrime gang, claimed responsibility and demanded a hefty $7.5 million ransom in exchange for the decryption key. The attack left a costly mark on the company as it struggles to recover, serving as an example of the importance of prevention.

Impresa: The Heart of Cybersecurity 

Impresa, a Portuguese media organization, was the target of a ransomware attack in January 2022. Hackers from Lapsus$ infiltrated the company’s internal computer system, which allowed them to access sensitive data and control some of the company’s websites.

Two of the company’s main websites, belonging to a newspaper and television broadcaster, were taken offline by the attackers. They posted a message stating their threat to publish sensitive data – one that loomed imminent if the full ransom was not paid.

Impresa suffered serious damage, to both their bottom line and reputation. The ransomware attack, like the one mentioned above, brought the importance of cybersecurity to the forefront.

Ransomware Prevention and Strategies

Preparation and a proactive mindset could be the difference between a costly setback and a financially secure future. Because ransomware attacks have the potential to leave lasting effects, making cybersecurity must be a priority.

By following the best practices to ransomware prevention highlighted below, your company can reduce exposure and minimize the impact of an attack:

Cyber Awareness Training 

Ransomware typically spreads through phishing emails that look completely innocent. That’s why employees often fall prey to a cybersecurity attack. Providing cybersecurity training and educational resources on ransomware identification is one of the most important lines of defense.

Staying Up-to-Date on Data Backups

Ransomware is designed to seem like paying a ransom is the only means of restoring access to encrypted data. However, automated and protected backups are the key to mitigating loss. By maintaining regular backups, an organization can recover with minimal data loss – and without paying a steep price.

Cyber Liability Insurance

A ransomware attack, along with other cybersecurity incidents, can have devastating effects on a company, especially for those in the telecommunications industry. Here at Telcom Insurance Group, we understand industry challenges and potential threats in the digital landscape.

With cyber liability coverage in place, we help to manage expenses related to a cyber-attack and provide resources to outline points of vulnerability.

Discover Ransomware Prevention with Telcom Insurance Group

There’s no denying that a ransomware attack can be debilitating, not only to a company’s financial future but to its reputation as well. From employee training to cyber liability insurance, taking the appropriate preventative steps can provide much-needed peace of mind.

As ransomware attacks continue to advance, cybersecurity can no longer be ignored. Telcom Insurance Group will partner with you, helping in the aftermath if an attack occurs. Contact us today to learn more or to get a quote on cyber liability insurance.