What Data is Stolen During a Ransomware Attack?

Posted: November 28, 2023

Ransomware attacks continue to evolve, reaping havoc on small and medium-sized businesses. Every day we learn about new ransomware incidents. In order to keep your business secure both now and into the future, you need to implement adequate security measures that can help prevent ransomware threats and reduce the impact of a successful attack. Of course, it’s easier said than done, especially when certain data is more likely to be targeted than others.

Ransomware Trends

Ransomware is an extremely dangerous threat that can encrypt files on the victim’s computer or network. The hacker then uses the encryption to extort payment, usually in cryptocurrency from the victims in exchange for the decryption key. Recent variants of ransomware also threaten to release the stolen data online, which is notable because victims cannot simply restore a data backup to get around the encryption. These types of double-extortion tactics can be particularly devastating. 

Five key trends were identified in PwC's 2023 Canadian Cyber Threat Intelligence Report:

  • AI will shape the threat landscape
  • Ransomware will continue to become more sophisticated
  • Data breaches will continue to threat Canadian organizations
  • Geopolitics will drive threat activity
  • Threat actors will look to the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and operational technology (OT) to disrupt business operations

The type of data targeted in a ransomware attack can vary depending on the goals and motivations of the attackers, but common targets include:

Personal Files: This includes documents, photos, videos, and other files stored on the victim's computer or network.

Business Data: Ransomware attacks often target businesses, encrypting critical files, databases, and other sensitive information that can disrupt operations.

Financial Records: Attackers may aim for financial data, such as banking information, transaction records, and accounting files.

Health Care Information: In the case of attacks on health care organizations, patient records and medical data may be targeted.

Government Data: Government agencies may be targeted to gain access to sensitive information, classified documents, or data critical to national security.

Educational Institutions: Student records, research data, and other educational materials may be at risk in attacks on schools and universities.

Critical Infrastructure Data: Ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure, such as power grids or water supply systems, could aim to disrupt essential services.

Intellectual Property: Companies may lose access to valuable intellectual property, trade secrets, or proprietary information.

It's important to note that the motivations behind ransomware attacks can vary. Some attackers may focus on financial gain, while others may have ideological, political, or competitive motives. Regardless of the specific targets, the primary objective is to encrypt data and demand payment for its release. Granted, this might be the most targeted data, but this does not mean that other types of data are not equally as valuable to hackers. All data can be valuable in some capacity, so you should treat it as such. Organizations and individuals are encouraged to implement robust cybersecurity measures, including regular backups, to mitigate the impact of ransomware attacks. 

Is Your Business Prepared?

It’s incredibly important that you protect your business in any way possible from these types of cyber attacks. One of the best ways you can do so is with a data backup system utilizing multiple off-site locations, including the cloud and secure data centres. You'll also need to develop a business continuity and discovery recovery plan and invest in tools like Managed Detection and Response and a modern antivirus. A multi-layered approach is the best approach to security. Digital Sky Solutions can help you secure your business. To learn more, reach out to us at (250) 483-5623.

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