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Can You Spot the Pattern Among these 2021 Ransomware Victims?

Dec 20, 2021, 03:19 AM by Mark Mazza

According to a report in The Guardian, ransomware hacks doubled in the UK in 2021. The international IT governance association ISACA tells a similar story around the world: ransomware attacks were up at an alarming rate in 2021. The question is, can we discern a trend among these attacks? A pattern that might tell us which types of companies are at greater risk?

We’ll summarise a few of the 2021 hacks below, and we’ll let you know which companies agreed to pay the hackers to decrypt their data, prevent leaks, or otherwise end their nightmare. As you read these summaries, ask yourself if you can spot the pattern among the victims.

Chemical distribution company in Germany

In April 2021, Brenntag, a chemical distributor based in Germany, had 150G of its corporate data stolen by ransomware hackers. The cybercriminals threatened to release this proprietary data publicly if Brenntag didn’t pay a ransom. After a few weeks of negotiating, the company gave the hackers $4.4 million.

Meat producer in the US

In June 2021, ransomware hackers hijacked the digital systems of JBS, the world’s largest meat supplier by sales. The attack shut down operations at the company’s plants in the US, Australia, and Canada. JBS paid the cybercriminals $11 million in bitcoin to unlock their systems and get their business back online.

Electronics maker in Taiwan

In March 2021, Taiwanese computer manufacturer Acer suffered a ransomware attack that compromised the company’s financial data. This story is interesting for several reasons:

  • The hackers’ $50 million ransom demand is the biggest ever on record.

  • Acer offered the cybercriminals $10 million, which they rejected.

  • The hackers then published Acer’s sensitive data on the dark web.

  • Later the same year, Acer was hit by a second ransomware attack.

Diamond seller in the UK

In November 2021, ransomware hackers captured the data of London jeweler Graff. The cybercriminals threatened that if the company failed to meet their demand for tens of millions, they would publish financial data of the company’s customers, which include celebrities such as David and Victoria Beckham, Tom Hanks, and former US President Donald Trump. As of this writing, we don’t yet know if Graff will pay the attackers.

Insurance company in the US

In March 2021, ransomware hackers hit CNA Financial Corp., one of the United States’ largest insurers. The attackers stole a massive amount of CNA’s customer data and locked employees out of their systems. After two weeks, the company paid the $40 million ransomware demand.

What’s the pattern?

As you probably noticed, the challenge we posed in the title of this post is a trick question. There is no pattern. The companies here cover a wide range of industries—from meat processing to diamond retailing. They’re also all over the world—Europe, North America, Asia. 

Even more disturbing, being technologically savvy won’t necessarily save an organisation from a successful hack. Acer, after all, is in the computer-creation business. CNA is in the insurance field, one of the most heavily regulated data-privacy industries in the United States.

The frustrating reality is that ransomware attackers are becoming more sophisticated every day. And as you can see from the 2021 examples here, they’re finding that their hard work pays off. Most of the targeted organisations are paying the ransom demands.

What can you do?

Your first step should be to prioritise hardening your organisation’s cyber defenses as soon as possible.

Your next step: Find the best technology to support your fight against ransomware, and the best partner to help you manage it.

At KeepItSafe, a 20-year veteran protecting enterprise data all over the world, we have the answers you’re looking for.


Contact Your KeepItSafe 

Ransomware Solution Architect

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