Nearly half of ransomware attacks globally targeted the US in 2021

William S. | January 11, 2022

Ransomware in the hands of cybercriminals can become a powerful weapon that could cause your business financial and reputational damage. While some hackers only seek money in cyberattacks, others could also use ransomware to steal confidential government information.

According to the recent findings by the Atlas VPN team, in 2021, 48% of ransomware attacks were directed at the United States. Furthermore, industrial and energy, retail, and finance industry businesses were among the most threatened sectors.

The data is based on Cyberint research Ransomware - The Bad, The Bad & the Ugly. The report analyzes recorded ransomware cases throughout 2021 by pointing out top ransomware attack targets and cybercriminal tactics, techniques, and procedures.

Out of 2,845 witnessed ransomware attacks worldwide, cybercriminals launched 1,352 of them at the US last year. Cybercriminals targeted businesses that affected thousands, if not millions of people, such as the cyberattacks on Colonial Pipeline, JBS Foods, and Kaseya. Besides that, US government entities were also attacked by state-sponsored threat actors.

Cybercriminals targeted French organizations in 146 ransomware attacks. Last year, French cybersecurity officials identified a ransomware affiliate group Lockean, responsible for many cyberattacks launched at companies in France. Transportation logistics, pharmaceutical, and newspaper businesses are just a few of the victims.

Organizations in Canada fell victim to 140 ransomware attacks in 2021. Threat actors primarily launched attacks on large companies or critical infrastructure providers as they have the most resources to pay. Back in February, the DarkSide ransomware gang hit one of Canada’s biggest rental agencies, Discount Car and Truck Rental.

The United Kingdom and Germany rank fourth and fifth on the list, as organizations there suffered from 139 and 115 ransomware attacks, respectively.

Most targeted industries

Many hacker groups target giant corporations because their disruption causes the most harm. Some organizations may pay a ransom simply to get back to business as quickly as possible without impacting more individuals and their company’s reputation.

The industrial and energy sector suffered 599 ransomware attacks globally in 2021. Cybercriminals can disrupt usual gas and electricity flow and cause shortages by attacking energy infrastructure. The Colonial Pipeline incident serves as a harsh reminder of the energy industry’s vulnerability to cyberattacks.

Threat actors chose businesses in the retail industry as targets in 545 ransomware attacks last year. Hackers target retailers when they are most vulnerable, such as during the Black Friday or Christmas sale seasons. If the retail service is down due to a cyberattack, customers will spend their money elsewhere, causing the company to miss out on profit.

The finance industry experienced 355 ransomware attacks from cybercriminals. Hackers perceive financial organizations to be wealthy, thus making them potential targets with high payout opportunities. A successful ransomware attack on a financial service could lead to severe reputational losses as clients would not trust their money with the company.

Real estate businesses suffered 308 ransomware attacks in 2021. At the same time, government entities and legal services were a target of 270 ransomware threats.

Ransomware attacks rose significantly against businesses and government entities in 2021, a trend likely to carry on to 2022. While organizations are scrambling for more cybersecurity resources, educating your employees about the best cyber defense practices is just as important.

William S.

William S.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Focused on revealing the latest cybersecurity trends around the world.



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