Akamai Technologies, the cloud company that powers and protects life online, has released a new State of the Internet report that spotlights the evolving ransomware landscape.
Ransomware on the Move: Exploitation Techniques and the Active Pursuit of Zero-Days finds that the use of Zero-Day and One-Day vulnerabilities has led to a 204% increase in total ransomware victims between Q1 2022 and Q1 2023 in Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ).
The report also found that ransomware groups increasingly target the exfiltration of files and the unauthorised extraction or transfer of sensitive information, which has become the primary source of extortion. This new tactic indicates file backup solutions are no longer sufficient to protect against ransomware.
A deeper examination of the data reveals that essential infrastructure in the region is being actively targeted. The top five critical industries in APJ that have been attacked by ransomware and are at further risk are manufacturing, business services, construction, retail, energy, utilities, and telecommunications.
Akamai warns that unless cybersecurity standards are strengthened, organisations in this sector will continue to be vulnerable to disruption.
The spike in ransomware attacks is due to adversaries shifting the emphasis of their modus operandi from phishing to vulnerability abuse to exploit unknown security threats and infiltrate business internal networks to deploy ransomware.
LockBit has been the most subscribed Ransomware-as-a-Service and now dominates the ransomware landscape in APJ, accounting for 51% of attacks from Q3 2021 to Q2 2023, followed by the ALPHV and CL0P ransomware groups. Specifically, Lockbit accounted for 60% of attacks in manufacturing, 55.8% in business services, 57.7% in construction, 45.8% in retail, and 28.6% in energy.
The CL0P ransomware group is aggressively exploiting Zero-Day vulnerabilities, like MOVEit, which contributed to the spike in ransomware victims in APJ in Q1 2023 and the ongoing ransomware events in June this year.
The report also found that most ransomware victims in APJ are small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with reported revenue of up to USD $50 million. Furthermore, victims of multiple ransomware attacks were more than 6x more likely to experience the second attack within three months of the first attack.
Dean Houari, Director of Security Technology and Strategy at Akamai, says: “Adversaries behind ransomware attacks continue to evolve their techniques and strategies, striking at the heart of organisations by exfiltrating their critical and sensitive information.”
“It’s imperative that both the private and public sectors across APJ strengthen collaboration to help organisations defend against ever-growing ransomware threats.”
“Businesses, especially SMEs in APJ, must work to adopt a zero trust architecture starting with software-defined micro-segmentation to mitigate ever-evolving cyber attacks as well as Ransomware-as-a-Service effectively.”
“By doing so, they can successfully protect their critical assets and business reputation and ensure business continuity regardless of the type of attack tool deployed by cyber criminal gangs,” says Houari.