With ransomware attacks on the rise and reaching a peak in forced payments this year, this new form of cyber scourge is now a global problem that organisations cannot ignore.
To raise more awareness, Sophos’ Rapid Response – a team of 24/7 incident responders who are helping organisations cope with active cyber attacks – has detailed 10 tactics ransomware attackers are deploying to persuade victims to pay the ransom:
- Stealing data and threatening to publish or auction it online
- Emailing and calling employees, including senior executives, threatening to reveal their personal information
- Notifying or threatening to notify business partners, customers, the media, and more of the data breach and exfiltration
- Silencing victims by warning them not to contact the authorities
- Recruiting insiders to help them breach networks
- Resetting passwords
- Phishing attacks targeting victim email accounts
- Deleting online backups and shadow volume copies
- Printing physical copies of the ransom note on all connected devices, including point of sale terminals
- Launching distributed denial-of-service attacks against the target’s website
“Since organisations have become better at backing up their data and restoring encrypted files from backups, attackers are supplementing their ransom demands with additional extortion measures that increase the pressure to pay,” said Peter Mackenzie, director, Incident Response at Sophos.
“The Sophos Rapid Response team has seen cases where attackers email or phone a victim’s employees, calling them by their name and sharing personal details they’ve stolen – such as any disciplinary actions or passport information – with the aim of scaring them into demanding their employer pays the ransom. This kind of behaviour shows how ransomware has shifted from a purely technical attack targeting systems and data into one that also targets people.”