US Ransomware Attacks Plummet

Ransomware attacks on the United States have diminished significantly and are "now at a level not seen in several years," according to cybersecurity company Emsisoft

In new research published today, Emsisoft found a marked drop in ransomware attacks on US entities coinciding with the onset of the COVID-19 health crisis. 

In 2019, ransomware impacted 966 government agencies, educational establishments, and healthcare providers in the US. Emsisoft experts who anticipated an even higher number of attacks in 2020 have been pleasantly surprised. 

"While the early indicators were that the 2020 numbers would be similar to 2019’s or perhaps even worse, that has proved not to be the case," wrote Emsisoft researchers.

"A total of 89 organizations were impacted by ransomware in Q1. However, as the COVID-19 crisis worsened, the number of successful attacks reduced considerably and is now at a level not seen in several years."

Data gathered shows the downward trend is continuing into the second quarter of the year with only 7 successful ransomware attacks reported between April 1 and 20.

Threat analyst Brett Callow said: "Despite COVID-19 and WFH (working from home), or, more accurately, because of them, the number of successful ransomware attacks on the US public sector, including healthcare, has declined significantly."

While the reduction spells good news for the public sector, cyber-criminals have not let up on the private sector, where the rate of ransomware attacks has remained steady. 

"It’s a mix of good and not-so-good news," said Callow. "On one scrupulously-washed hand, attacks on the public sector are way down and the criminals are making less money. On the other scrupulously-washed hand, the private sector is being looted at the same rate as ever."

With many companies battling for survival in the wake of the lockdown measures imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, a ransomware attack now could spell economic disaster. 

"Companies are hurting financially and many are reliant on government support programs for their survival. I fully expect that some of the companies hit by ransomware in the coming weeks will fail; attacks will be the straw that broke the camel’s back," said Fabian Wosar, Emsisoft CTO.

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