The MIT Technology Review is reporting that ransomware may have cost the U.S. economy as much as $7.5 billion in 2019.
Ransomware is a kind of computer malware that encrypts or locks out a system until the owner pays a ransom to the malware creator. In the last couple of years, ransomware has become big business for cyber criminals, as the risk/reward proposition is very favorable. Target the right type of organization—such as one in a fast-moving industry, one where lives are on the line or a government institution—and the target may have very little recourse other than to pay to get back up and running as quickly as possible.
As the report highlights, governments, both local and national, as well as public institutions increasingly became targets. The cities of New Orleans and Baltimore were both hit in 2019, not to mention a U.S. Coast Guard base.
These targets are often chosen because of a lax approach to security, especially on the state level. Here’s to hoping 2020 is the year governments, corporations and individuals alike put cybersecurity first.