Cyber Safety Personal Security in Cyberspace

December 2017 © Winnebago County DoIT

Ransomware attacks grew by 167x year-over-year and was the payload of choice for malicious email campaigns and exploit kits. The meteoric rise of ransomware in 2016 is unlike anything we’ve seen in recent years. The SonicWall Global Response Intelligence Defense (GRID) Threat Network detected an increase from 3.2 million ransomware attack attempts in 2014 and 3.8 million in 2015 to an astounding 638 million in 2016. By the end of the first quarter, $209 million in ransom had been paid by companies, and by mid-2016, almost half of organizations reported being targeted by a ransomware attack in the prior 12 months.ix

The SonicWall GRID Threat Network observed ransomware attacks against businesses of all sizes throughout the year. While many victims of ransomware chose not to publicize the attacks, several breaches received national attention. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles admitted to paying $17,000 in bitcoin to regain access to its data in February 2016, while the Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL) revealed they paid ransomware attackers $25,000 in April 2016.x, xi In the U.K. in September 2016, hosted desktop and cloud provider VESK handed over 29 bitcoins, worth about $22,800 USD at the time.xii And in November 2016, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority had to open its fare gates when a ransomware attack took down its payment and email systems, demanding 100 bitcoins, or about $73,000 at the time.xiii

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ix "Roundup: Ransomware Statistics 2016 [Infographic]," ArmadaCloud, 2016,

x Trevor Mogg, “Hollywood Hospital Pays $17,000 to Ransomware Hackers,” Digital Trends, February 18, 2016,

xi Bradley Barth, “Lansing, Mich., utility admits paying ransomware demand,” SC Magazine, November 10, 2016,

xii Kat Hall, “VESK coughs up £18k in ransomware attack,” The Register, September 29, 2016,

xiii Samuel Gibbs, “Ransomware attack on San Francisco public transport gives everyone a free ride,” The Guardian, November 28, 2016,