The Expert’s Guide To Targeted Ransomware Attacks – And How To Protect your Organization From Them.

ransomware attacks

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ransomware attacks: In the world of computer networks, cyber security is serious because of the danger involved. Cyber security can be defined as the art of defending and protecting computers, mobile devices, servers, data, networks and also electronic systems from dangerous or malicious attacks. Cyber security has been used to cover several contexts such as business and mobile computing. Cybersecurity is divided into few categories. Below are some of the cyber security categories.

  • Network security: This focuses in defending a computer network from unethical Intruders, whether targeted or just opportunistic ransomware.
  • Application security: This is the type of cyber security that deals with safeguarding software and devices from malicious attacks.  A hacked application can provide access to data it is meant to protect.  Successful security starts from the design stage before such a program will be released to the general public.
  • Information security: This focuses on the protection of privacy of days both in storage and also in transit. Some of these programs makes use of the latest SSL encryption method to protect users data.
  • Operational security: this involves the process and decision for managing (handling and protecting) data assets. This category deals with the permissions users have when accessing a network and the procedure that shows how those data are stored.


What are targeted ransomware attacks?

To fully know what targeted ransomware is all about, and to understand the difference between opportunistic and targeted ransomware you will need to read through the section. If you are knowledgeable on how kidnappers work, that is the same ransomware works too. 

Ransomware attacks is a designed malicious ware that encrypts victims’ data in order to change them and give access to unwanted intruders who then demand ransom. Unless the ransom demanded is provided, that data will not be accessed by the true owners.

Hope you got the point now, it’s like stealing or kidnapping someone’s valuable data for ransom.  Ransomware is primarily developed to spread over a network and Target database servers. It is important to understand that this ransomware is a global threat to so many businesses and organizations too.

This ransomware is very lucrative for cybercriminals, a report shows that within the last few years Cybercriminals have made over billions of dollars from ransomware-targeted attacks. These Cybercriminals target top companies’ databases. 

We have two categories of ransomware attacks: 

  • Targeted ransomware attacks:In this type of cyber attack those Cybercriminals attack an organization’s database intentionally in order to extort money from them. Most of them need to follow a specific organization’s website, application or software for over a period of time before getting an opportunity to attack.
  • Opportunistic ransomware attacks: This an unplanned attack, it was never intentional. The database of an organization or Business is attacked because an opportunity presents itself.

infographics credit: Kaspersky

Recently ransomware has become the most used means of extortion by opportunistic cyber attackers.

Opportunistic attackers prey on those organizations that don’t practice proper security protocols when backing up their data or don’t follow the right steps when recovering lost data.

Several organizations rely solely on traditional antivirus solutions, which are sometimes not efficient in stopping ransomware. The antivirus maintains an inventory known as malicious samples and also tries to stop future executions. The disadvantage of using this antivirus is that they need to be updated regularly and quickly in order to keep up with mutations generated by the ransomware developers.

Recently, Cybercriminals have shifted their attention to targeted ransomware techniques. This is because once they are able to attack a single database, they stand a chance of getting her pay.

What is targeted ransomware?

In recent years,  many well-trained ransomware attackers have shifted their interest to the Target approach of locating those organizations willing to offer them large ransoms.  These Cybercriminals target big organizations that have the ability to offer them hefty ransoms, using already established and developed methods designed for them.

Those Cybercriminals are very creative, they can go a long way in learning about their victims and how to exploit vulnerabilities in their databases. They have techniques of identifying the most important data on their victim’s computer system and then encrypting it. And hold it for a ransom until they get paid what they demand.

Those attackers are very patient when it comes to carrying out the business, it normally takes a few months or more before they can deploy ransomware payloads.

According to The U.S Department of Homeland Security’s Research unit, the 2021 Unit 42 Ransomware threat Report, reported that those ransomware attackers most time target data backups.  This is because if a business Company is unable to restore its files after they’ve been encrypted, it might lead to financial disaster for the company. Any Cybercriminal who was able to do this knows already that the company involved compensates for getting the work demand. 

Ransomware attackers charged between $15 Million from 2015 – 2019, this amount has increased to as high as $30 Million as of 2020.

What are the primary targets for ransomware attacks?

It is very easy to understand what these Cybercriminals target when attacking the database of a firm.  Those attackers simply look for an organization’s sensitive data, knowing that the organization can not do without such data. This will make those organizations pay the hefty ransoms demanded by those Cybercriminals.

We are going to leave off what exactly are the primary targets of ransomware attackers.

Like any planned business execution, there are some or factors that the attackers look out for when they are evaluating their top target.

Some of those factors they look out for are;

  • Companies that have the potential of paying hefty ransoms.
  • Companies that have easy access to their sensitive data.
  • Companies with the proper security backup to resist ransomware.

Below are the primary targets of ransomware attackers:

  1. Valuable Data

The most vital factor that ransomware attackers look out for is the value of an organization’s data.  If those Cybercriminals are able to encrypt highly sensitive information of an organization, their victim will be compelled to pay hefty ransom. Even if those attackers didn’t not receive any ransom from the organization, valuable data can fetch them good money from Dark web buyers. Ransomware attackers prefer to target the following industries; Professional services, manufacturing services, and manufacturing services. Those sectors are the most attacked by Cybercriminals.

2. Lack Of Security Infrastructure

When an organization lacks the necessary security infrastructure that is capable of stopping or defending their database. Such organizations are already prone to malicious attacks from Cybercriminals. Those companies tend to have lesser security extensions compared to larger corporations, making them very prone to attack.

Recently, a trend tagged as ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) has become very popular in the cyber world.  This is a group of ransomware attackers that started to franchise their tools, making it possible for anyone to perform ransomware attacks for a fee.  Growing RaaS will only mean that more new Cybercriminals could perform ransomware attacks and such novice will prefer to target easier targets.

3. New companies 

New companies that are still new to cybersecurity are likely to be attacked, especially if the company falls under these sectors; manufacturing or logistics.  Ransomware attackers can easily attack those sites because it is possible that they don’t have enough security infrastructure that will stop them from performing their enterprise.


Canada ransomware attacks.

In the past years, Canada has experienced several ransomware attacks, in this section we are going to briefly look at some of those attacks.

  • Superior Plus Corp: on December 12,2021, superior plus Corp which was based in Toronto faced ransomware that affected their system. However, the manufacturing company immediately took a step to mitigate the risk.
  • Toronto Transit Commission: The Toronto-based Transit Commission (TTC) was attacked with a malicious file that encrypted their valuable data. They are not really sure if the attackers were able to access the personal information of the customers and workers.
  • D-Box: D-Box are very popular entertainment providers that are based in Montreal Canada, they were also attacked by ransomware attackers on July 14, 2021. D-Box has to separate internal systems from those managing its clients in order to prevent the attack from affecting their partners.
  • Canada Post: Canada Post became a victim of a cyber attack in May 2021. The attack was carried out through their third-party vendors. The ransomware is said to have affected 950,000 parcels. Postal addresses, phone numbers, and emails of customers were affected.
  • Canada Revenue Agency: Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) experienced ransomware attacks where about 50,000 accounts were targeted.  

Who does ransomware attacks?

Ransomware attacks are carried out by cyber security developers or programmers who want to extort money from a person or company. They are well-trained with sophisticated knowledge in software development.

Cybercriminals look for easy targets that can pay hefty ransoms. That is the reason why the entertainment sector, which usually deals in multi-million-dollar projects, is frequently attacked.  The entertainment sector is the second most attacked industry by ransomware. A successful ransomware attack on a successful company will eventually result in a higher payday for the attackers.

Some of these attackers also attack small and medium business enterprises in order to extort a few bucks from them. 

If your business’s annual revenue is a few million dollars, you could also be a target of this attack. In general, the more profitable your business is, the more targets you become.

Who is targeted by ransomware?

Ransomware targets Business owners. Corporations or Governments who can give them hefty ransom for encrypting their sensitive information. Below are the most targeted sectors.

image credit: statista/ symamtec, Datto

Banking And Financial Services

Ransomware attackers target this sector too often because they believe that this establishment has the ransom to pay them. Also they can access very sensitive information of customers.

Banking and financial sectors are more vulnerable to ransomware attacks according to cybersecurity firm Trellix’s reports for 2021.


Education are also vulnerable to cyber attack, this is because most education website lacks the necessary resources to install anti-ransomware Strategies. These Cyber Criminals want to have access to student’s and faculty staff information.

Energy And Utilities

This sector is very much a popular target for cybercriminals who are willing to cause infrastructure damage and for those who are looking to get paid by the company. According to a report published by Cybersaint in 2022, 43% of energy oil and utilities companies attacked by ransomware paid the ransom charged by Cybercriminals.


Like all the above-listed organizations, government organizations are also vulnerable to ransomware attacks.

How does ransomware get into the system?

Wondering how this ransomware gets into your system? You should know that this malware enters your system through several means. Generally, ransomware is spread through phishing emails that have malicious attachments. It can also get into your system when you download a file that is infested with malicious attachments.


Can ransomware attacks be stopped?

Yes, it can be stopped and prevented. To prevent ransomware attacks, follow the below steps.

  • Data backups: To prevent ransomware attacks it is compulsory you back up your data whenever possible.
  • Be Creative: Most times Deception technology can notify you of a potential ransomware or other cyberattack.
  • Data Encryption: Make use of the latest SSL encryption method to protect sensitive data from leaking to the public.
  • Be at Alert: Some software can actually help you to dictate potential cyberattacks, However, note that tools have their own shortcoming too. Because of this personal vigilance remains a very important measure to use to prevent any malware attack. Either by not opening suspicious emails or securing your passwords. Good cyber security hygiene remains an effective means to prevent malware attacks.  This is why an employer has to educate his or her staff on how to prevent ransomware attacks.

Over the years, malware attacks have become the most dangerous threat facing businesses today. Fortunately, after reading this article you will know how to prevent and avoid those malware from attacking your system.

How to negotiate with ransomware attackers?

To successfully negotiate with ransomware attackers  follow these simple steps:

  • Try to handle the negotiation like a normal business deal.
  • Don’t show panic in your voice, be audible.
  • Tell them you can’t afford the amount they are demanding at the moment.
  • Ask that they give you time to pay up.
  • Get a service of cybersecurity experts.
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