Ransomware attacks have been making headlines in the United States, with companies, hospitals, schools, and individuals being forced to pay hackers to recover crucial data held hostage. But, according to one report from security software firm Malwarebytes, Canada is not as protected as it thought against criminal cyber attacks. The report showed that more than a third of the companies had been hit by a cyber attack, and about 75% of the victims had to pay between $1,000 and $50,000 to recover their stolen data.
What You Need to Know about Ransomware
Ransomware is a type of malware that denies access to the infected computer system. This malicious software looks for files on a computer and encrypts or locks them down to make them inaccessible to the user. The files remain on your computer, and the attacker isn’t accessing them. Most cyber criminals aren’t interested in your banking records or other files. They just want a ransom.
IT companies in Winnipeg can confirm that the malware displays a demand for the user to pay a ransom to regain access to the files. In most instances, the attackers request payment in bitcoins, which have made many government officials to see a connection between the crypto-currency and the prevalence of ransomware attacks.
The value of the ransom can vary from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to cbc.ca, the largest ransom demand ever recorded was a whopping $800,000.
Canada’s Most Ransomware Affected Cities
According to the Malwarebytes report, there are several Canadian cities that are popular ransomware targets. The attackers take advantage of the prevalence of old software, such as outdated versions of WordPress used by many Canadian institutions and organizations.
Below you can find a list of the top five Canadian cities that are most likely to become ransomware targets.
A veterinary doctor in Toronto had an unpleasant surprise at work one morning: a hacker was holding his patient’s medical records hostage. While this might sound like a Hollywood scenario, it happens more and more. According to one report from Symantec, cyber attacks increased 35% last year, with a majority of ransomware events being targeted at Toronto, the most populous city in Canada. The clinic didn’t pay the ransom, but according to Symantec, 39% of ransomware victims do.
In spring this year, the Ottawa Hospital announced that four computers in its network were hit with ransomware, which made important patient data inaccessible to hospital administrators. Although no patient information was affected, the incident came at a time when ransomware is becoming more and more frequent. According to the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Center (CIRC), the number of ransomware attacks being reported to the government is increasing at a rapid rate.
Montreal is another favored target for ransomware attacks in Canada. Ransomware is now rapidly replacing other malware attacks in the largest city in Quebec. Poor security patching, lack of sound backup strategies, and the rise of bitcoin has made it possible for hackers to target more and more businesses, institutions and even individuals in Montreal.
It might come as a surprise the fact that Markham, Canada’s high-tech capital, is a common target for ransomware attacks. However, many IT infrastructures in organizations, hospitals, and government institutions tend to rely on outdated operating systems and software that can’t offer the protection they need.
The University of Calgary took the media by storm when it announced that it paid a ransom of $20,000 after a ransomware attack took hold of its computer systems. Even though they paid the ransom, there’s no guarantee that another cyber attack won’t hit their computers again, making crucial files inaccessible to the University administrators.
This attack was one of the most publicized, but it was not a singular event. Every day, there are over 1,600 ransomware attacks in Canada, a great majority of which affect the city of Calgary.
Consumers and businesses alike should take measures to prevent the possibility of a cyber attack. In addition to updating every old software system, they should avoid opening any email attachments that are unknown or unsolicited. Backing up important data on external hard drive or cloud computing service is also another efficient way to keep your data safe from hackers and ransomware attacks.