Due to its low barrier of entry, ease of use and anonymous
payouts, ransomware continues to grow — and is growing at an
increasing clip. By mid-year 2019, global ransomware was up
This year, it’s up 20%.
Within this 20% lies a great deal of variation, however.
Ransomware in the U.K. has fallen by 6% year over year, to
5.9 million, and in other places it’s dropped by nearly half.
In North America, ransomware is up 105% — including a 109%
increase in the United States, where it rose to 80 million.
While it’s impossible to determine causation, a strong
correlation can be found in the ransomware graph and the
patterns of COVID-19 infections. Asia saw the first COVID-19
cases, and ransomware numbers there spiked in January
and March. The pandemic hit Europe next, and we see
corresponding spikes there in February and April.
In North America, ransomware attacks started low in January,
but by March they had nearly tripled, continuing to make more
modest gains through April and May before showing a slight
decrease in June, when numbers fell to their lowest point
Unfortunately, COVID-19 rates have been rising again, this
time even higher than before — so if this pattern holds true,
North America may soon be dealing with the one-two punch of
COVID-19 and rampant ransomware.
Effects of the pandemic can also be seen in global trends. In
the first half of last year, ransomware peaked in May. This year,
it peaked in February.
Unfortunately, exploiting a global pandemic isn’t the only
reprehensible thing ransomware operators did in 2020. They’ve
also been increasing focus on so-called “soft targets” — local
governments, public administration agencies, education,
and even hospitals. Due to their small size and generally tight
budgets, they often lack the security of larger companies.
But perhaps more importantly, the work many of these
organizations do isn’t just vital to the company itself — it’s
vital to the functioning of our society. These attacks have
taken down websites, email, payroll, phone services and
dispatch services, and have even attempted to toxify municipal
“In most cases, these are not brand new exploits; [attackers]
are not creating new malware,” SonicWall President & CEO Bill
Conner said in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News
regarding a $1.14 million ransom demand recently paid by UC
San Francisco. “There’s more easy access from home than
there was in a building because you have multiple layers of
security in your office.”
See how the experts at CisCom can help you with this and more!
Blog content for the 2020 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report series provided by our partners at SonicWall.