Ransomware attacks targeting hospitals and schools are declining, report finds

Recorded Future has reported that ransomware attacks targeting hospitals and schools appear to be on a downward trend in 2021.

According to the statistics, they are now at their lowest point in a year.

In fact, there were only two ransomware attacks on healthcare organisations in January – compared to the same period in 2020, this is a fourfold decrease.

In January 2021, governments sustained four ransomware attacks – this is an improvement compared to the 14 that took place place in December 2020 and the 15 in December 2019.

Allan Liska, a ransomware expert at Recorded Future, attributes the decline to crackdowns on ransomware groups.

The following examples all attest to this:

  • Operators of the NetWalker ransomware were brought to justice.
  • Several individuals who had a connection with the Egregor ransomware were arrested.
  • Europol made an announcement to disrupt the Emotet botnet.

Liska said that additional smaller groups such as Ziggy and Fonix seem to have shut down recently.

This indicates that certain ransomware operators appear to be getting nervous about the legal consequences of their actions.

The slowdown of ransomware attacks against certain industries may be temporary though – January and February are generally known to be slow in this regard.

When more people are vaccinated and students return to school as a result of the COVID-19 situation improving, we may see an uptick in ransomware.

The consensus among security professionals is that there will be an increase in ransomware attacks targeting hospitals and schools later in the year.

Kashif Hafeez, senior director at WhiteHat Security, said that the transition to remote learning has opened up new attack surfaces, therefore creating new opportunities for cybercriminals.

Mohit Tiwari, co-founder and CEO at Symmetry Systems, said that he does not expect to see fewer ransomware attacks in the following months.