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IT, beware: Ransomware black hole threatens to consume all, according to report

Surface Laptop 4 Amd 2021 Keyboard Lights
Surface Laptop 4 Amd 2021 Keyboard Lights (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Ransomware has seen a spike in popularity amongst threat actors.
  • A new report from Sophos indicates the troubles are only set to expand.
  • Sophos attributes the rise in ransomware-related threats to elements such as cryptocurrency popularity and an evolution in ransomware distribution models and pressure tactics.

For those not familiar with the power of ransomware, it's worth looking back at the Colonial Pipeline situation from mid-2021, wherein part of the U.S.'s oil supply infrastructure was temporarily crippled virtually overnight by a group utilizing the malware type.

And don't think ransomware is only going after big targets. Threat actors make a habit of preying on unsuspecting businesses and individuals as well, should the promise of money be obvious enough. So when Sophos says the ransomware circuit is set to evolve, that's bad news for everyone.

According to the Sophos 2022 Threat Report, four major, blossoming ransomware trends have been identified.

  1. The ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) model isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
  2. Ransomware will remain a key ingredient in existing threat bundles of adware, spam, loaders, and more.
  3. Extortion efforts related to ransomware attacks will continue to raise the stakes in intensity and expand in variety.
  4. So long as crypto mining and cryptocurrencies remain popular, ransomware strikes will have ample fuel for their fire.

In other words, if you want to learn how to mine crypto or are investigating what the best GPUs for crypto mining are, be aware that you're moving into territory heavily targeted by ransomware aficionados. It's so heavily targeted by these sorts of threat actors, in fact, that the U.S. government has been whipping up sanctions for cryptocurrencies on the basis that they could stymie cybercriminal endeavors.

There's a lot more to the ransomware report than just these findings, so if you want the full scoop, check out Sophos' writeup to learn more about how the malware type threatens IT in particular. And if you're not afraid of ransomware and want to go all-in on Bitcoin or cryptocurrency in general, check out what El Salvador is up to.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

5 Comments
  • “Threat Actors”???? WTF kind of PC BS is this? Afraid to call them what they really are? That would be CRIMINALS.
  • Threat actor makes more sense in the original context of the report, which is targeting a different audience. The criminality is a given there, more precise language is needed to describe the people who carry out the specific threat that's being described. "Criminal" does not work well for this; what's being described is "people who carry out ransomware attacks specifically, as opposed to other kinds of cyberattacks". Hence threat actor, with the specific threat being established by context. I suspect it's included here more because the report used it than for any intentional reason.
  • The word "cybercriminal" is in the article. No one is denying these people are criminals. It's semantics. Settle down.
  • What? Crypto mining isn't a "heavily targeted" area for ransomware, and governments aren't cracking down on crypto currencies because ransonware attacks heavily target them, they're cracking down on them because they are more easily launderable and do an end run around financial regulations, which is why they're more appealing for ransomware attackers to use as the medium of exchange for extracting the ransoms. Targeted is a bizarre word choice. And then using this as an opportunity to self referentially link your own content, in a way that leads to affiliate links, around how to participate in a speculative asset bubble that mostly helps criminals and money launderers while consuming huge amounts of electricity and contributing to a gpu shortage is kind of skeevy.
  • GPU shortage, you say? Opportunistic backlinks? Never.