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Ransomware attacks rose 47 percent in July

The Hill logo The Hill 8/25/2022 Ines Kagubare
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Ransomware attacks rose 47 percent from June to July, with the majority of attacks targeting the industrials sector, according to a report released on Thursday by cybersecurity firm NCC Group. 

Previous reports conducted by the firm indicated that ransomware cases had declined in the spring but soon picked up again, with attacks increasing from 135 in June to 198 in July.

“This month’s [report] has revealed some major changes within the ransomware threat scene compared to June, as ransomware attacks are once again on the up,” said Matt Hull, global head of threat intelligence at NCC Group, in a statement.

According to the report, the rise in ransomware attacks comes as several new threat actors emerge, including Lockbit 3.0, Hiveleaks and BlackBasts, which have been associated with the Conti ransomware group — a Russia-based hacker group.

The report also mentioned the rise of the Lazarus Group, which has been tied to several multimillion-dollar cryptocurrency hacks this year. The group has been associated with the North Korean government.

In April, the FBI accused the Lazarus Group of stealing about $620 million in cryptocurrency from the virtual game Axie Infinity. 

Earlier this month, the Treasury Department said that the group used Tornado Cash, a cryptocurrency mixer, to steal more than $455 million in cryptocurrency, the largest known virtual currency heist to date, the agency said.

“Following two major cryptocurrency heists, Lazarus Group seem to be improving their crypto-theft and ransomware operations, so it is more important than ever to monitor their activity closely,” Hull said.

Federal agencies have continued to warn critical infrastructure to be wary of ransomware attacks, which has become a popular tool for cyber criminals.

Earlier this year, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that in 2021 cybercriminals used ransomware against 14 of the 16 U.S. critical sectors, including the health care industry.

The health care industry has been a prime target for ransomware hackers, as it is a sector that stores valuable and sensitive information such as patient data and medical research and technology.

Lawmakers have urged the Biden administration to strengthen the federal government’s cyber defenses in the health care sector amid a rise in cyberattacks.

In a letter addressed to the Department of Health and Human Services, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) urged the agency to better protect the health care and public health sector from the growing number of cyber threats. 

Ransomware attacks on the [health care and public health] sector have skyrocketed in the past two years as opportunistic criminals recognized that hospitals may pay quickly to resolve issues and protect patient safety,” the lawmakers said in the letter.

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