It seems like consumers and businesses are affected by data breaches every day. Data breaches that have detrimental financial—and even emotional—consequences. Personally identifiable data can be left vulnerable to cybercriminals who intend to sell or use the information for themselves. In 2020, Cybercrime Magazine reported that cybercrime will cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. Experts believe that cybercrime will continue to grow by 15% every year, representing the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history. The  economic damage caused by cybercrime is greater than the damage inflicted from natural disasters and will be more profitable than the global trade of all major illegal drugs combined. These statistics are alarming. As society becomes more dependent on the internet and digital devices, businesses have to ensure adequate data protection for themselves and their customers.  

Ransomware: One of the most common cyberattacks

Ransomware (or ransom malware) is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users’ access to it until a ransom is paid to unlock it. Typically, the ransomware will display an on-screen alert stating that the user’s systems have been locked or that the user’s files have been encrypted. The ransom demanded varies greatly, but typically must be paid in cryptocurrency.  

It is estimated that the global ransomware cost is expected to reach $265 billion by 2031.  TechTarget’s 2021 round-up stated that ransomware had a strong year, with attackers incorporating several new trends yielding better results than previous years. Attackers focused primarily on phishing, supply chain attacks, double extortion, ransomware as a service and attacking unpatched systems. As a result, ransomware rates increased substantially:  

  • Ransomware frequency doubled in 2021, accounting for 20% of all data breaches. 
  • Approximately 37% of all global organizations said they fell victim to some form of ransomware attack in 2021. 
  • The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported 2,084 ransomware complaints from January to July of 2021. This is a 62% year-to-year increase.  
  • The average amount of reported ransomware transactions per month in 2021 was $102.3 million.  

Knowledge is power. Prevention comes next.

The leading causes for ransomware as of 2020 were: 

  1. Phishing emails: In 2020, phishing accounted for 54% of ransomware infections. Hackers use well-crafted emails to trick victims into opening an attachment or clicking on a link that contains a malicious file. The file can come in different formats (PDF, Zip file, Word document or JavaScript.)  
  1. Poor user practices: In 2020, poor user practices accounted for 27% of ransomware infections. Ransomware attacks increased from 2014 by more than 4000% in small to medium-sized enterprises due to poor security practices.   
  1. Lack of cybersecurity training: In 2020, lack of cybersecurity training accounted for 26% of all ransomware infections.  A global study revealed that there is a shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals. This causes a lack of training, and it has impacted 70% of organizations.  
  1. Weak passwords and access management: Weak passwords accounted for 21% of all ransomware infections, this is down from 30% in 2019. A Google survey about beliefs and behaviors around online security showed that two in three individuals recycle the same password across multiple accounts. More than 50% admitted using one “favorite” password for the majority of the charges. Only one-third of respondents knew how to define the password manager. 

When it comes to successfully combatting cybercrime, knowledge is just the first step. The next step is prevention. Biometrics has become the gold standard for secure authentication and identity proofing. Biometric technology uses personal identifiers such as fingerprintsface, iris, or voice to permit access to device whether mobile or web. Additionally, AI and machine learning can be streamlined into biometric technology to create behavioral markers or behavioral biometrics for each privileged user, including keyboard strokes and mouse movements.  These markers are then computed into a continuously updated behavioral profile, which serves as the blueprint of what normal activity should look like. In this way, suspicious activity can be spotted immediately, and actions can be taken to terminate the session.   

Combat ransomware attacks with a little extra security

 Ransomware attacks can have detrimental effects on businesses and consumers: from financial repercussions to the anxiety that ensues with having one’s most precious data available for cybercriminals worldwide. It is imperative that business owners get ahead of potential threats. In addition to good cybersecurity habits, business owners need to ensure robust data security and access management for themselves and their customers.  

For businesses looking to implement stronger authentication methods, the Knomi® biometric authentication framework is the way to go. It uses mobile and web devices to conduct biometric enrollment and authentication. It conveniently uses face liveness and voice recognition for multifactor authentication. Knomi’s advanced security capability can authenticate driver’s licenses and passports to ensure spoof-resistant biometric facial matching between live and printed images.  

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