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Ransomware attacks up since start of COVID-19 crisis, study finds

By
Don Jacobson
Imani Baucom, a second grade English teacher, communicates Monday with students remotely from her home in Bowie, Md. The coronavirus pandemic has made working remotely more commonplace and vital to enduring the health crisis. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Imani Baucom, a second grade English teacher, communicates Monday with students remotely from her home in Bowie, Md. The coronavirus pandemic has made working remotely more commonplace and vital to enduring the health crisis. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

May 6 (UPI) -- Ransomware attacks have become more rampant as workers and businesses have been under orders to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic, a new study showed Wednesday.

Datrium, a Silicon Valley-based provider of computer security services, said a survey of more than 300 information technology professionals from large firms found that nearly 70 percent have experienced ransomware attacks since the start of the crisis that cost their companies between $100,000 and $500,000. Nearly one in five reported a cost exceeding a half-million dollars.

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Ransomware hackers seize victims' keyboards or computers until a ransom is paid, typically in cryptocurrency.

Wednesday's survey also said 96 percent said their companies have become increasingly concerned about being targeted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Datrium CEO Tim Page said the "pervasiveness of remote work" is making more companies vulnerable to cybercrime.

"This research shows that businesses are even more concerned about it because of their newly distributed workforces resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.

The survey results echo a warning last week from Microsoft, which said ransomware attacks are "unrelenting" at a time when remote work is more widespread and necessary. It said hackers are targeting healthcare and critical industries, in particular.

Microsoft warned that hackers are gaining access by exploiting security weaknesses in virtual office networks.

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Bass Pro Shops marketing manager David Smith (R) carries a box of donated face masks into Mercy Health in Chesterfield, Mo., on May 13. The company is donating 1 million FDA-approved ASTM Level 1 Procedure Face Masks to healthcare workers and first responders working on the front lines of the pandemic. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

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