Skip to main content

Ransomware is one of the most notorious types of malware to exist. It prevents victims from accessing their company’s systems, obstructing them from running their operations. Ultimately, a successful attack can cause millions of dollars worth of losses and take a huge toll on an organization’s reputation. 

To launch an attack, cybercriminals usually send the ransomware disguised as an email attachment or a link to a high-profile recipient. If opened, the ransomware is activated, allowing it to infiltrate the recipient’s system, encrypting all files and then demanding payment for the key to decrypt the files. 

The FBI estimates that over 4,000 new ransomware strains are being created daily, continuing to be a persistent threat in the future. This figure means you’ll have to actively monitor your system for new threats and improve your understanding of ransomware. We can better understand the impact of ransomware by studying the biggest ransomware attacks.

The Biggest Ransomware Attacks of All Time: What We Can Learn

1. Brenntag

The Brenntag ransomware attack resulted in the loss of 150GB of data and forced the corporation to pay $4.4 million on May 11, 2021. Brenntag, a global chemical distribution company based in Germany, lost its ability to access its files and had to pay the ransom in bitcoin to Darkside, the group responsible for the attack.

Darkside threatened to leak the data if Brenntag didn’t meet their demands. They initially demanded $7.5 million, but Brenntag negotiated to bring it down to $4.4 million.

2. CNA Financial

CNA Financial, the seventh-largest commercial insurer in the US, disclosed it had fallen victim to a massive cybersecurity attack. The group called Phoenix carried out the ransomware attack on the corporation using Phoenix Locker. It forced CNA Financial to pay $40 million to get its data back.

3. Colonial Pipeline Company

Colonial Pipeline covers over 5,500 miles, transporting around 100 million gallons of fuel every day. America’s largest pipeline went offline on May 7, 2021, after the hacking group Darkside breached it with ransomware. In the following days, the average gas price significantly increased to more than $3 for the first time in seven years. 

The ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline ended with the company paying 4.4 million in cryptocurrency, and on June 7, 2021, the Department of Justice announced it had regained part of the ransom. Law enforcers took back 2.3 million using a private key.

4. CWT

CWT is a US travel management firm that fell victim to ransomware called Ragnar Locker. The criminals claim to have stolen sensitive corporate files and data while knocking 30,000 computers offline. 

The data’s release would pose a serious threat, as CWT is a service provider for one-third of S&P 500 companies. The company ended up paying the hackers an estimated 4.5 million.

5. JBS

JBS USA is one of the biggest meat suppliers in the country, and a hack temporarily stopped operations at the five largest US-based plants. Outside the US, the ransomware affected the operations of the company’s Australia and UK branches. 

JBS paid hackers 11 million in bitcoin to prevent further disruption and damage because the attack severely impacted grocery stores and restaurants. Upon investigation, the FBI determined the hacking was the work of REvil, a sophisticated criminal ring known for its ransomware attacks.

6. Kaseya

The aftermath of the Kaseya ransomware attack affected around 1,500 organizations in many countries. Kaseya is a company that provides IT solutions for other corporations, making them the ideal target for hackers. 

The REvil criminal ring claimed they were responsible for the attack, demanding ransoms ranging from thousands of dollars to a few million. 

REvil demanded 70 million in bitcoin, but Kaseya got a universal decryptor key from the FBI and US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency to help all corporations affected by the attack.

7. TeslaCrypt

TeslaCrypt was modeled on an earlier program called CryptoLocker and circulated in November 2014. However, the ransomware was not widely distributed until the following year. TeslaCrypt started targeting gamers, but after infecting computers, a pop-up would direct the user to pay a $500 ransom in bitcoin. 

Other reports regarding the ransom said the price ranges anywhere from $200 to $1,000 in bitcoin. Eventually, developers of TeslaCrypt released a master decryption key for all users to unlock their computers.

8. WannaCry

In May 2017, computers worldwide fell victim to ransomware called WannaCry. WannaCry exploited the vulnerability issues in Windows PCs. It also revealed a leak of National Security Agency (NSA) documents and hacking tools by the group Shadow Brokers.

There’s no number of how many computers the ransomware affected. Still, victims included known companies, like the Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica and thousands of hospitals in the UK. Globally, computer systems in 150 countries were affected, estimating the total loss was around $4 billion.

How Should My Company Handle the Threat of Ransomware?

1. Develop a ransomware response plan

The first step in how a company should handle ransomware attacks is to have a response plan that includes everything from identifying infected systems to ensuring the company’s backups are up to date. 

This task can be difficult for many organizations that do not have an established IT department or dedicated cybersecurity team. Fortunately, there are many resources available online that can help. 

2. Prioritize cybersecurity training

Employees need to know how to identify and report suspicious activity before it becomes an issue. They also need training on restoring data from backup systems when necessary. 

There should also be clear instructions on who must be contacted once an attack has occurred, so stakeholders can work together as quickly as possible to resolve issues without further damage or loss of productivity.

3. Apply multi-factor authentication in all applicable areas

Multi-factor authentication requires you to verify your identity by providing two or more identifying information before logging in. This process helps prevent unauthorized users from accessing your account and potentially damaging your organization’s reputation with your customers.

4. Limit data access 

Limiting data access to authorized personnel will disable hackers from viewing sensitive data if they try to use your computer. After they’ve been locked out of the computer, they won’t have access because they don’t have authorization.

Another way is encryption. Encryption ensures that even if someone gets access to your data, they can’t read it. If you’re worried about ransomware attacks on your company, consider encrypting all data. It provides extra protection, even if someone gets in, they’ll at least go through a long process to decrypt it. 

5. Conduct cybersecurity risk assessments

Regular cybersecurity risk assessments are essential to prevent hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities in your security systems. 

Identifying any vulnerabilities in your systems now will prevent hackers from exploiting them in the future. Use these assessments to educate your employees about staying safe online, so they don’t fall victim to phishing scams or other cyberattacks.

Build Your Defenses

As technology continues to evolve, cybercriminals’ methods will also expand. New malware strains continue to enter the picture, so it’s necessary to take protective measures and build a response plan to manage an attack.

Increase your protection from these infiltrations to benefit you in the long term. If you’re considering getting a multi-factor authentication system, Q5id has the tools for you.

To learn more, get in touch with us today.

"*" indicates required fields


Request Demo

"*" indicates required fields