Ransomware Special Reports

“Know thy enemy”: The hackers and their marketplace By Ann-Marie Corvin and Nicole Deslandes

Who are the bad actors threatening your business, and why is it important to know your enemy, and how they operate, so you can protect yourself?

K now thy enemy and know opus The Art of War. It is wisdom that rings true today for enterpris - es looking to tackle the threat of ransomware. The full quote says when you’re ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If you’re igno - rant of both your enemy and your - self, you are sure to be defeated. With ransomware, it is important to start there - with getting to know your enemy. By ransomware, we mean malware that encrypts data, demanding pay - ment in exchange for a decryption key, given in return for a ransom yourself.” So goes Sun Tzu’s ancient proverb from Chinese

usually paid in Bitcoin or another digital currency. Ransomware’s cost to business can be immense – according to Sophos’ 2022 State of Ransomware report, the average total cost of recovery from a ransomware attack in 2021 was $1.4 million. The subsequent data loss can cause a business to be down for 10 days or longer, meaning factors such as product sales and business produc - tivity are also affected. And it’s hard to quantify the kind of reputational damage a breach can cause a firm. Once the data has been encrypted by ransomware, the hacker usually demands a ransom using Bitcoin or another digital currency to decrypt and regain access to their files.

The growing threat of ransomware has caused some enterprises to ac - quire Bitcoin solely for the purpos - es of attacks – although whether a ransom should ever be paid or not is something we’ll discuss in part three of this series. The dark web So who are the hackers and how do they operate? The stereotypical im - age of the malevolent hoodie-wear- ing hacker is in urgent need of an update: no longer are single players the only threat at the table. Nor is cyber warfare merely available to nation states looking to flex their digital muscles or harm their politi - cal enenmies. Digital transformation has swept


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