Ransomware ramps up for the holidays, Darktrace reveals

The average number of attempted ransomware attacks increased by 30% over the holiday season, according to research from global leader in cyber security AI Darktrace.

According to Darktrace’s security researchers, the 30% increase in attacks, compared to the monthly average, has happened every holiday season since 2019.

The researchers also observed a 70% average increase in attempted ransomware attacks in November and December compared to January and February. Following a record number of ransomware attacks this year, the company expects the spike to be higher over the 2021 holiday period.

It seems the Christmas period opens up both businesses and consumers to cyberattacks. Earlier this month, FinTech Global reported that recent data from Arkose Labs predicted a 60% increase in online fraud attempts over the upcoming 2021 holiday shopping season.

During the nascent 2021 holiday season, Darktrace’s AI detected and autonomously stopped an in-progress, early-stage ransomware attack on a US city before any data exfiltration or encryption could occur. The city’s security team had the foresight to deploy an AI solution to combat multi-stage ransomware attacks, enabling them to stop the attackers at the earliest stage, Darktrace said.

Powered by self-learning AI, Darktrace technology develops an understanding of normal business operations for each organisation. It autonomously interrupts in-progress attacks at every stage from the initial entry with sophisticated spear phishing emails to brute-forced remote desktop protocol (RDP), command-and-control, and lateral movement, all without business disruption.

Justin Fier, director of Cyber Intelligence and Analytics, Darktrace, said, “Based on what we’ve seen in previous years, holidays are consistent target periods for cyber-attackers. Interestingly, the largest rise in attempted ransomware attacks is between Christmas and New Year’s when attackers know there will be fewer eyeballs on screens defending against threats.

“Business leaders should know that there is available technology that can identify and respond to the initial warning signs of ransomware before attackers can hold critical systems hostage, even when human security teams are out of office.”

Copyright © 2021 FinTech Global

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