In 2023, news about ransomware attacks has slowly faded from your newsfeeds. Today, it is almost impossible to hear about a ransomware attack. Part of the reason for this has been a change in strategy by cybercriminals. Despite wreaking havoc on organizations and businesses, they have managed to stay under the radar by primarily focusing on small and medium-sized organizations, businesses, and veterinary practices, etc.
This is why the threat of ransomware attacks should not be underestimated, especially now that most of these attacks are not getting highlighted in the news media. To help you understand how prevalent ransomware attacks have become, we have analyzed data for 2023 ransomware attacks and packaged it in a way that veterinary practitioners and practice owners can get a feel for what they are up against in the coming months and years.
Ransomware 2023 data
Equipped with increasingly sophisticated techniques, cybercriminals are transforming the landscape of cyber threats in 2023, especially through the use of Ransomware. Combining data from multiple sources, below are some of the trends and data about ransomware attacks that should concern veterinary practices:
- Escalation in Ransomware Attacks: According to reports by Fortinet and Cyberint, ransomware attacks have surged dramatically in 2023. Over 80% of surveyed organizations expressed significant concern, and a staggering 50% fell victim to these insidious attacks in the last year. A chilling 1386 victims were claimed by the ransomware industry in Q2 2023 alone, representing a 67% increase from Q1 2023 and a 97% increase from Q2 2022.
- Active Ransomware Groups: Several groups have become notoriously active in 2023, including LockBit3.0, MalasLocker, ALPHV, BianLian, 8base, and Cl0p. These groups use various methods to compromise targets, including phishing emails, exploiting vulnerabilities, bribing employees, and compromising IT supply chains.
- The True Cost of Ransom Payments: Of organizations impacted by ransomware, 71% paid at least a portion of the demanded ransom, despite 72% detecting the incident within hours or even minutes. Yet, payment rarely restored normalcy: only 35% managed to recover all their data.
- Targeted Countries and Sectors: The United States bore the brunt of these attacks, with 574 victims in Q2 2023, followed by the UK and Canada, with 60 and 56 victims, respectively. While business services, retail, and manufacturing sectors took the heaviest hits, veterinary practices also found themselves in the crosshairs.
It is important to note that the continued ransomware attacks have resulted in most organizations investing in cybersecurity. Some of the ways that these organizations have responded to these ransomware attacks include:
- Increasing their security budgets to invest in technologies and services that further safeguard their networks from a potential ransomware attack. In general, security leaders’ top priority is to implement advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) that enable faster threat detection, followed by central monitoring to speed up response. According to a report by Fortinet, 91% of security leaders surveyed expect increased security budgets in the coming year to invest in technologies and services that further safeguard their networks from a potential ransomware attack.
- Adopting a zero-trust approach, implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA),
segmenting the network, backing up data regularly, updating systems and applications, educating users and staff, and collaborating with peers and law enforcement. These are some of the best practices and recommendations provided by various reports and experts to prevent or mitigate ransomware attacks. According to a report by Trend Micro, 70% of organizations surveyed have implemented or plan to implement a zero-trust approach, 69% have implemented or plan to implement MFA, and 67% have implemented or plan to implement network segmentation.
- Seeking certified professionals who have the skills and knowledge to deal with ransomware threats. Certifications are sought as proof of cybersecurity competence and credibility. According to a report by NIST, 90% of organizations surveyed have implemented or plan to implement regular data backups, 88% have implemented or plan to implement system and application updates, and 86% have implemented or plan to implement user and staff education.
- Exploring alternative solutions such as cloud-based security services, managed detection and response (MDR) providers, and cyber insurance policies. These solutions can help organizations reduce the complexity, cost, and risk of ransomware attacks. According to a report by Varonis, 60% of organizations surveyed have implemented or plan to implement cyber insurance policies, 59% have implemented or plan to implement cloud-based security services, and 57% have implemented or plan to implement MDR providers.
Relevance of 2023 Ransomware Data to Veterinary Practices:
So far, we have looked at statistics on ransomware attacks in 2023 and some of the trends that are happening in the cybersecurity world in reference to ransomware. Although the data is industry-wide, it should be an eye-opener for most veterinary practices. For instance, the measures listed above on how companies and organizations are responding to the threat of ransomware attacks may not be enough to protect veterinary practices from the evolving ransomware threat. However, a few important lessons can be learned. Some of these lessons that the data provide include:
- Increasing Sophistication of Ransomware Attacks: With cybercriminals deploying ever more advanced methods and a shift in focus towards smaller organizations, veterinary practices must remain vigilant. Investing in cybersecurity awareness and training can help identify and prevent common attack vectors like phishing emails.
- Prevalence and Escalation of Ransomware Attacks: The significant increase in ransomware attacks in 2023 underlines the need for veterinary practices to consider such threats as not just possible but probable. Regular assessments of cybersecurity infrastructure and staying up-to-date with the latest threats and protection methods are no longer optional.
- Resilience is Crucial: As the data has shown, paying the ransom does not guarantee the restoration of data, with only 35% managing to recover all their data. Therefore, veterinary practices need to build resilience by adopting strategies such as regular data backups and network segmentation, which can reduce the impact of a successful ransomware attack.
- Cybersecurity Investment is a Must: Just as larger organizations have done, veterinary practices must allocate a reasonable part of their budgets for cybersecurity measures. This can include adopting advanced technologies like AI and ML for faster threat detection and response, implementing zero-trust approaches, and acquiring cybersecurity insurance.
- Human Resources are Key: Investing in certified professionals with specialized knowledge to deal with ransomware threats can go a long way in both preventing successful attacks and mitigating their effects. Moreover, providing cybersecurity education for all staff members can turn them from potential security vulnerabilities into the first line of defense against ransomware attacks.
- Collaboration and Reporting are Essential: In the fight against ransomware, veterinary practices should not stand alone. Collaborating with peers, sharing information on potential threats, and reporting any attacks to law enforcement can help strengthen defenses across the sector.
- Utilizing Managed Services: For smaller veterinary practices that might not afford to have a full-time cybersecurity staff, outsourcing cybersecurity to Managed Detection and Response (MDR) providers can offer a viable alternative.
To conclude, the rising prevalence of ransomware attacks requires a robust and multifaceted response from veterinary practices. While the insights gained from the data should be concerning, they also provide clear steps that can be taken to enhance cybersecurity. Staying informed, investing in technology and human resources, adopting best practices, and being prepared for potential attacks are all essential components of a strong defense strategy against ransomware.
No longer can veterinary practices afford to be complacent about their cybersecurity. The data from 2023 paints a clear picture: ransomware is a persistent and evolving threat. However, with awareness, investment, and appropriate strategies, veterinary practices can navigate the cybersecurity landscape with confidence and resilience.