The number of reported ransomware attacks in Calgary fell 41% last year
The number of reported ransomware attacks has dropped in Calgary and across the country, but people documenting these attacks warn that extortion still eats up thousands of dollars from victims.
The Calgary Police Department says calendar year 2022 saw a 41 percent drop in the number of ransomware attacks reported to CPS compared to 2021.
Ransomware is a form of malicious software used by hackers to take over a victim’s computer or network and demand payment in exchange for decryption.
Last year, there were 13 ransomware cases reported to CPS, and 22 the year before. However, a police spokesman noted that cybercrime is notoriously underreported.
Ritesh Kotak, a cybersecurity and technology analyst based in Toronto, said people know a lot more about ransomware and are investing more in cybersecurity than they used to, which may be the reason for lower reported numbers.
“Think about where we were five years ago compared to today. It’s clear that these types of attacks have a huge impact on society. We talk about it all the time,” Kotak said.
“Organizations are now realizing that it is very expensive to recover from these attacks. As a result, companies are becoming more proactive than reactive. And I think that, in a sense, that is an indication that cybersecurity is no longer a checkbox exercise.”
Kotak said a protocol for not paying ransomware has long been in place, which could reduce future extortion charges.
Canada-wide data shows a drop in casualties
Nationally, revenue for ransomware attacks has increased year-over-year, but the number of reported victims has fallen. According to figures reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center (CAFC), there were 66 victims of ransomware in 2022, compared to 104 in 2021.
But despite fewer reported attacks, victims lost more — a total of $474,439 in 2022 and $346,195 the previous year, according to data from CAFC.
Jeff Horncastle, acting communications and client outreach officer at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, said a devastating ransomware attack could result from a simple phishing message.
“If we look at 66 victims and almost half a million lost – very expensive for ransomware victims,” he said.
He added that people are “definitely” more aware of ransomware prevention strategies than they were in the past.
“Education and prevention are the best way to combat this. We need to keep abreast of what techniques fraudsters are using, what methods they are using, because they are going to use technology to their advantage and we need to know what that technology is to be able to help ourselves to protect.”
He warned business owners to be careful of unsolicited emails, not to respond or click on links, have a data backup plan, install multi-factor authentication anti-malware software on networks or devices, and make regular password changes .
Businesses are under attack
Mandy D’Autremont, vice president of marketing partnerships at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said small businesses are paying a lot more attention to cybersecurity than they used to be. they are not there.
She said that according to data collected by CFIB, there are many business owners who received random cyber attack attempts last year.
D’Autremont said that according to data collected by the organization, 27 percent have received targeted attacks that are highly specific to their company.
CFIB calculated that the damage lost from a small business ransomware attack averages around $26,000.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Center is urging people who believe they have been targeted by a cyber-attack to report to the center in addition to local law enforcement, as it can help link information from around the country for investigators.