Ransomware attacks: This is the data that cyber criminals really want to steal

Data theft and extortion has become a common – and unfortunately effective – part of ransomware attacks, where in addition to encrypting data and demanding a ransom payment for the decryption key, gangs steal information and threaten to publish it if a payment isn’t received. 

These so-called double extortion attacks have become an effective tool in the arsenal of ransomware gangs, who leverage them to force victims to pay up, even in cases where data could be restored from offline backups, because the threat of sensitive information being published is too great. 

Any stolen data is potentially useful to ransomware gangs, but according to analysis by researchers at cybersecurity company Rapid7 of 161 disclosed ransomware incidents where data was published, some data is seen as more valuable than others.

SEE: How to keep your bank details and finances more secure online 

According to the report, financial services is the sector that is most likely to have customer data exposed, with 82% of incidents involving ransomware gangs accessing and making threats to release this data. Stealing and publishing sensitive customer information would undermine consumer trust in financial services organisations: while being hacked in the first place would be damaging enough, some business leaders might

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