Specialist insurer Beazley has reported that ransomware attacks increased in both severity and costs in 2020 compared to the prior year, with attacks now becoming the biggest cyber threat to face organizations.
According to the latest Beazley Breach Insights report, the total cost of ransom payments doubled year-on-year through the first six months of 2020, based on incidents reported to Beazley’s in-house breach response team, BBR Services.
The nature of ransomware attacks has also “markedly changed” in the year, according to the group. Ransomware incidents are now more likely to include a threat to release stolen data versus encryption alone.
In addition, threat actors increasingly have prior access to a network before deploying their attack, during which time they are working to “escalate their privileges, move laterally through the network, and perform reconnaissance on the network and data stored on it”.
Increasingly, they exfiltrate data and upload it to an external site, both to prove that they have access and to threaten exposure.
Despite the “growing complexity” of attacks, Beazley said there are opportunities to disrupt criminals’ activities during the cyber extortion process, though this requires regular and thorough training of employees on how to avoid this threat.
It said that organisations should not only try to prevent a ransomware infection, but prepare in case they do get infected.
Paul Bantick, Beazley’s global head of Cyber and Technology, said: “In an incredibly challenging year in which ransomware has become the biggest cyber threat to impact individuals and organizations alike, the severity of ransomware attacks has continued to escalate.
“Our underwriting, claims and threat intelligence database shows that ransomware attacks are much more sophisticated and severe, thus, it is critical that organizations adopt a layered approach to security and take stringent measures to make it hard for threat actors at every step.”
He added: “Throughout 2020, our award-winning claims and BBR Services teams have risen to the challenge to help thousands of clients respond to these fast-moving and complex events while maintaining exemplary service levels. As the year comes to a close, I would like to thank our brokers and insureds for their support in 2020.”