/Ransomware attacks on healthcare, pharma sectors seen rising in 2021

Ransomware attacks on healthcare, pharma sectors seen rising in 2021

Pune: The pandemic has made healthcare and pharma sectors vulnerable to ransomware attacks, which will only increase in the new year, cybersecurity firm Seqrite has said.

And with most organisations expected to follow a hybrid working model—office and home—next year, threats persist for remote work infrastructure as well. Bitcoin prices at an all-time high also raises the spectre of stealthier crypto-miners.

Though a few ransomware operators agreed to not attack the healthcare sector during the Covid-19 crisis, several others continued—largely due to the sensitive and personal data of patients. Numerous hospitals, coronavirus research firms and pharma companies fell victim
to ransomware attacks in the last quarter of 2020, making it necessary for them to adopt or deploy a comprehensive set of security solutions.

In September 2020, Seqrite discovered Operation SideCopy, an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) attack targeting the Indian armed forces. Similar to Operation SideCopy, there will be similar attacks in 2021 that will attempt to breach critical infrastructure.

“The pandemic acted as a huge opportunity for cyber criminals to innovate attack strategies and steal sensitive data for their personal gain,” Himanshu Dubey, director at Quick Heal Security Labs, said. “These advancements are likely to continue in the coming year as well. For instance, new tactics like double extortion, crypto-mining, ethical hacking, etc., are expected to be widely adopted by threat actors in 2021.”

While earlier ransomware attacks like WannaCry would encrypt files and demand payment in return for a decryption key, a new threat has been observed where attackers also exfiltrate private information.

“On denial of ransom, adversaries threaten to release hijacked information in public. This is double trouble for organizations—exposing sensitive data in the public causes severe GDPR implications. In either case, businesses are likely to have to pay to move forward. This tactic is called RansomHack or Double Extortion,” said the Seqrite report. Maze, DoppelPaymer, Ryuk, Lockbit, Netwalker, Mountlocker, and Nephilim are few ransomware operators using double extortion techniques.

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