A ransomware attack against any business could be potentially devastating, but there are some sectors which are more at risk from file-encrypting attacks than others, as cybercriminals prey on industries which can't afford to not have access to their networks.
Ransomware has boomed over the last 18 months, growing from an annoyance which targeted home PC users with moderate ransom demands, to a billion-dollar industry, with cybercriminals holding high-profile or deep-pocketed targets to ransom for tens of thousands of dollars.
While some cybercriminals might be attempting to compromise any organisation possible with a generic attack, professional threat actors will create specially tailored attacks in order to make them look as authentic as possible -- even by making the message look like it comes from a colleague.
Ransomware is most often delivered via a phishing email, which arguably provides an explanation as to why NTT Security's Global Threat Intelligence Report lists business and professional services as the sector most likely to be targeted by ransomware.
Given that opening financial spreadsheets, job applications, and other email attachments is at the very heart of this modern sector, it makes sense that over a quarter of ransomware attacks (28 percent) were directed at business and professional services firms over the course of a year.
Meanwhile, 19 percent of ransomware attacks were targeted at government and government agencies. Healthcare is the next highest-profile target for cybercriminals, accounting for 15 percent of attacks. It was a ransomware attack against an LA hospital which infamously highlighted the problem, taking the network offline for days until the hospital paid a $17,000 Bitcoin ransom.
Ransomware attacks against the retail industry account for a further 15 percent of all incidents. All other industries make up the remaining 23 percent, according to the NTT Security report.
Ransomware has become one of the biggest menaces on the web. This ZDNet guide contains everything you need to know about it: how it started, why it's booming, how to protect against it, and what to do if your PC suffers an attack.
READ MORE ON CYBERCRIME
- How Bitcoin helped fuel an explosion in ransomware attacks
- Ransomware became three times as expensive in 2016 [CNET]
- Ransomware: Why one version of this file-encrypting nightmare now dominates
- Tell Bart and other ransomware families to 'Eat my shorts' with new, free decryption tools
- Why SMBs are at high risk for ransomware attacks, and how they can protect themselves [TechRepublic]