Ransomware cyber attacks increased by 25% worldwide in the first quarter of this year compared to the final three months of 2019, based on incidents reported to Beazley Breach Response (BBR) Services.
The specialist insurer's findings show that financial services and healthcare were the most affected sectors, accounting for half of all ransomware attacks reported in the first quarter.
Manufacturing saw the biggest rise in incidents, increasing 156% quarter-over-quarter, while banks and healthcare organisations were hit particularly hard due to ransomware attacks on managed service providers (MSPs).
These attacks threaten to publish the victim's data, or perpetually block access to it, unless a ransom is paid, with the global WannaCry attack in 2017 one of the most notable high-profile incidents.
Meanwhile, separate research from KnowBe4 shows that phishing attacks have also soared during the COVID-19 crisis, with criminals attempting to steal personal data through fake emails and texts designed to look like official coronavirus-related information.
“Cyber criminals are preying on people’s heightened anxiety during this pandemic, tricking them into clicking and sharing links that steal information,” said Katherine Keefe, head of BBR Services.
“Those working from home may have weaker IT security than corporate networks typically provide. Organisations must ensure their security systems and protocols are up to date and ensure that colleagues working from home are extra vigilant.”
How ransomware attacks were spread across sectors in the first quarter is shown below:
This comes after Action Fraud revealed last week that more than £5m of fraud has been reported in the UK since February during the coronavirus crisis, with the number of reports totalling over 2,100.
Pension scams are among the most common types of COVID-19 fraud suffered by Britons during the pandemic, and the Pensions Regulator urged savers to remain vigilant.
Chief executive Charles Counsell said: “These figures once again show the true devastation of scams. We know, on average, victims of pension scams lose £82,000.
“Anyone can be a victim and COVID-19 has created the sort of environment fraudsters thrive in. That’s why it’s vital savers don’t rush decisions about their retirement funds.”
Author: Chris Seekings
Image credit: iStock
Graphic credit: BBR Services