Purveyors of ransomware have, until now, tended to adopt a shotgun approach; spraying malicious code across as wide a field (aka the Internet) as possible in the hope that some of it will hit a victim. It now appears that they have switched their weapon of choice to a sniper rifle – in order to pick off only the most lucrative targets.
The more mission-critical or sensitive the data, the more money attackers can demand for its safe return. It is also harder for organisations to defend themselves against individually tailored attacks. By definition, the largest businesses offer the richest pickings – especially if the attack exploits sensitive timing, such as a quarterly financial statement or an important industry announcement.
Sure, it may cost hackers additional time to prepare, but customised ransomware attacks can yield up to ten times the average $300 demand for more opportunistic incursions, reflecting the greater effort put in by the attackers. The best defence is to implement best practice cybersecurity measures, such as cutting back user and software privileges, installing anti-malware software and using network segmentation – alongside a well thought-out contingency plan.