Ransomware volume doubles in 2021, surpassing 600 million
Cybercriminals use ransomware as a tool to encrypt companies’ essential data. Usually, if an organization has not backed up its information in the cloud, it is doomed for big trouble. They either have to pay a hefty ransom or lose data forever, which could end the business altogether.
According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, global ransomware volume surged by 105% in 2021. In addition, cybercriminals sent the most ransomware attacks to the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
The data is based on the 2022 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report. The intelligence for the research was sourced from real-world data gathered by the SonicWall Capture Threat Network, which securely monitors and collects information from global devices.
Ransomware attacks globally reached nearly 188 million volume in 2019. Next year, in 2020, ransomware threats grew significantly, rising above the 300 million volume. However, both years do not come close to the number of ransomware attacks seen in 2021. The threat volume doubled, reaching 623 million ransomware hits.
The total number of ransomware attacks represents nearly 20 ransomware attempts every second in 2021. After the first half of 2021, we already knew this would be a record-breaking year, as ransomware volume reached 304.7 million at that time. However, the second half of the year proved to be even worse, reaching 318.6 million.
March had the lowest number of ransomware threats, as cybercriminals launched 36.2 million attacks. On the other hand, June was a stand-out month, as it recorded the highest volume of ransomware threats — 78.4 million. On the bright side, it seems that ransomware hits started to decline in Q4.
The United States remains the primary ransomware target
Over the last few years, ransomware attacks, which targeted US businesses, usually come out with the largest payout, making the country's organizations a wanted target. Nonetheless, institutions in other countries are just as vulnerable to hacker attacks.
The United States suffered significantly more ransomware threats than any other country — 421.5 million. That makes the US 12 times more likely to suffer a ransomware attack than second-placed Germany. Ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipeline, JBS Foods, and Kaseya made many organizations in the US reconsider their cybersecurity approach.
Cybercriminals launched 34.2 million ransomware attacks at Germany in 2021. In November, German-based MediaMarkt, Europe’s largest electronics retailer, was hit by a Hive ransomware attack demanding to pay $50 million in bitcoin. While it is unknown whether the company paid the ransom, the attack caused many casualties in affected physical stores.
Next up, the United Kingdom was affected by 33.5 million ransomware volume. Conti criminal gang leaked 69,000 confidential documents relating to celebrities like Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, and more after a successful attack on British jeweler Graff in October. Organizations in the UK have experienced more and more ransomware threats in past years.
Brazil ranks fourth with 33 million recorded ransomware threats in 2021. At the same time, Canada follows up fifth, as cybercriminals launched 24.2 million ransomware hits.
Ransomware has continued to grow as criminal gangs could launch sophisticated attacks uncontested for a long time. However, as governments saw what damage ransomware could bring, many states invested in cybersecurity to get ahead of attackers. Proper defense tools and good cybersecurity practice awareness can help mitigate ransomware risks.