India, Austria, and US organizations most hit with ransomware
Ransomware attacks are one of the leading cyber threats that organizations have to face. Hackers encrypt essential files and documents, leaving victims with an option to pay the ransom to gain access back or to restore data from backups.
According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, organizations in India, Austria, and the United States are among the most hit with ransomware attacks. To compare, more than 50% of companies in the mentioned countries experienced such attacks in the past year, while the global average is 37%.
The numbers are based on Sophos The State of Ransomware 2021 survey. It interviewed 5,400 IT decision-makers from a wide range of sectors across 30 countries. The survey was conducted in January and February 2021. Respondents were questioned about ransomware attacks in their organizations in the past year.
Out of 300 interviewees from India, 68% suffered from a ransomware attack. Moreover, such threats increased significantly during the COVID-19 period as people moved to work from home, and most organizations in India were not prepared at all.
At the same time, 57 out of 100 respondents from Austria experienced a ransomware attack in the last year. In one of the ransomware attacks in 2020, criminals hacked an entire city of Weiz in Austria. Another significant attack targeted Austria’s foreign ministry.
Next up, in the United States, 51% of participants, out of 500 questioned, reported that they were hit with a ransomware attack. The US is a popular target for cybercriminals, as they see a potential to demand high ransom payments.
On the other hand, countries like Nigeria, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, and Poland were targeted by hackers less. However, Japan does stand out as a cyber-developed country where organizations have invested in cybersecurity, which led them to only 15% of companies experiencing ransomware attacks.
Retail and education sectors suffer the most ransomware attacks
Some organizations in specific sectors are more susceptible to hacker attacks due to their lower security levels or valuable data. However, cybercriminals do not shy away from attacking even the biggest companies or government administrations.
Out of 435 respondents in the retail industry, 44% were hit with a ransomware attack last year. Hackers strike retailers when it could hurt them the most, for example, on Black Friday or Christmas seasons. If a business can not offer a trustable service, customers will spend their money somewhere else.
Retailers share first place with education organizations — out of 499 education interviewees 44% experienced such malicious attacks. Cybercriminals usually deploy ransomware attacks at the start of a school year to cause maximum disruption. This tactic was particularly effective due to distance learning last year.
The business and professional services industry suffered the third most ransomware attacks, with a total of 42% out of 361 respondents stating they experienced a ransomware attack in the past year. Companies in this industry are usually smaller with less staff, meaning they might not have a dedicated person to ensure security. That becomes an easy target for hackers to launch automated attacks.
Out of 117 participants in the Central government and non-departmental public body (NDPB) sector, 40% reported being attacked with ransomware in the last year. Threat actors can exploit governments due to outdated technology or not enough cybersecurity staff.
Ultimately when an attack does happen, governments find it more logical to pay the ransom, as backing up the lost data will be more expensive.
Lastly, out of 768 respondents working in the other industries, 38% experienced a ransomware attack.
As data reveals, ransomware attacks are not going anywhere in the near future. Hackers continue to attack various countries and industries as long as they find vulnerabilities they can abuse. It does not matter whether you are a small business or a large organization, investing in cybersecurity is a must for everyone if you want to keep the data secure.
Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.