AI tactics drive doubling of ransomware attacks

The number of reported ransomware attacks affecting key industries in the Asia-Pacific region and globally have doubled since last year and more than quadrupled since 2021, according to new research from Barracuda.

Observing ransomware attack patterns between August 2022 and July 2023, Barracuda’s fifth annual Threat Spotlight report on ransomware analysed 175 publicly reported successful ransomware attacks across the world, spanning multiple industries.

In the primary categories Barracuda has been tracking — municipalities, healthcare and education — the number of reported attacks have all doubled since 2022 and more than quadrupled since 2021. 

Researchers also found that while successful ransomware attacks targeting infrastructure-related industries are lower in volume compared to the top three sectors, these industries also experienced more than twice the number of attacks compared to last year.

The analysis revealed similar patterns of escalation in other industries, particularly ransomware attacks on software businesses.

In the past 12 months, Barracuda’s SOC-as-a-service team observed the following types of incidents — business email compromise (BEC), ransomware, malware infection, insider threat, identity theft, and data leakage. 

Ransomware accounted for 27.3% of incidents, second only to BEC (36.4%).  

This year also, Barracuda researchers also took a closer look the impact of generative AI tactics on ransomware attacks, looking at ways cybercriminals can use these capabilities to strike faster and with better accuracy.

“The number of successful ransomware attacks continues to climb and shows no signs of slowing down,” said Fleming Shi, CTO at Barracuda. 

“Recent advances in generative AI will only help ransomware gangs increase the rate of attack with more effective cyber weapons,” said Shi. “That’s why it’s essential for organisations to have tools in place to detect and prevent attacks, but also to be resilient and prepared to recover from an attack.”

Mark Lukie, Barracuda director of solution architects in APAC, said that ransomware continues to be a very real threat for businesses across all industries in Asia-Pacific. 

“This new report further underlines the need for businesses in APAC to take the necessary steps to stay protected,” said Lukie. “This means ensuring you are deploying the best possible solution to detect, prevent and remediate these attacks, whilst educating teams in good cyber hygiene to avoid being low hanging fruit for attackers.”