By Charles Henderson, global managing partner and head of X-Force at IBM

Over the past year, the general public has become more aware of a very palpable change in crime — cybercriminals have become far more efficient and destructive. The impact of this trend makes older techniques feel like petty crime.

For more than a decade, most cyberattacks were focused on selling stolen data. The financial damage businesses felt from these attacks was significant, but most data is difficult for criminals to monetize. Credit card breaches are a great example of this outdated criminal business model’s failures. The industry has had great success closing compromised accounts quickly — in many cases before purchases can be made. After identifying the useful cards, criminals may purchase expensive merchandise that can be sold for cash, but physically obtaining the items carries a significant risk of being caught. All of this reduces the data’s value, making smaller data breaches unprofitable. 

Criminals have discovered a much more lucrative business model for their attacks: ransomware. For the past three years, ransomware has been the most common cyberattack that my team at IBM Security, X-Force, has seen. Ransomware gives criminals leverage with their targets, especially when that target plays critical roles in global supply chains. This allows the attack to be immediately monetized with no intermediate steps and no risky physical interaction. 

In short, criminals have gone from chasing data to a direct payment model, and every one one of us feels the effects — whether we realize it or not.

Last year, one in four cyberattacks that X-Force responded to were ransomware, most of which targeted manufacturing companies. Criminals used the world’s dependency on this industry for pandemic response efforts to their direct advantage. In fact, the FBI, CISA, and NSA observed ransomware incidents against 14 of the 16 US critical infrastructure sectors in 2021.

But while businesses paid, and continue to pay, the cost of ransomware attacks are also being passed on to consumers. In 2021, gas prices rose 10% because of the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline. The price of meat surged just as much following a ransomware attack on the world’s largest beef supplier. Just last month, an Illinois college announced that after 157 years of teaching, it was permanently shutting down, in …read more

Source:: Business Insider


The real-world repercussions of cyberattacks will usher in a security renaissance

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