Cybercriminals are adding a new twist to their demands

Pay the ransom or we’ll leak your data is the latest trend, warns cybersecurity company.

Cybercriminals Protection in Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Image: Emsisoft

Ransomware could be getting even nastier: a security firm is warning over a new trend among some cybercriminals to not just encrypt data, but steal some of it and use it as leverage to ensure a target pays up.

In several recent cases, it has been reported that the ransomware gang have not just encrypted data but also threatened to leak the data, too. Emsisoft says these attacks elevate the ransomware threat “to crisis level” and called on government organizations to immediately improve their security.

“If they do not, it is likely that similar incidents will also result in the extremely sensitive information which governments hold being stolen and leaked,” the cybersecurity company said.

Emsisoft said by its calculations that in 2019 across the US, ransomware attacks impacted at least 948 government agencies, educational establishments and healthcare providers at a potential cost in excess of $7.5 billion. The impacted organizations included 103 federal, state and municipal governments and agencies, 759 healthcare providers and 86 universities, colleges and school districts.

It said that the impact of ransomware included emergency patients being redirected to other hospitals, medical records made inaccessible and, in some cases, permanently lost, and emergency dispatch centres being forced to rely on printed maps and paper logs to keep track of emergency responders in the field.

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