Handsome ransoms

In June, the University of Calgary announced it had paid cybercriminals $20,000 to unlock frozen staff and faculty email following a “ransomware” attack. Here’s some data on the rise of computer hijackings.

4: Computers affected at The Ottawa Hospital in March when a staffer clicked on a “malicious link.” In February, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center declared an “internal emergency” when it was unable to access patient records.

1 in 3: Companies found to be stockpiling digital currencies, such as bitcoin, to prepare for a ransomware attack. The 2016 study of UK businesses found 20% had no contingency measures in place.

1.5: Millions of dollars in estimated losses related to 5,000 Canadians whose computers were affected by the 2014 Cryptolocker virus. Most of those attacked were required to pay about $300 in bitcoins to unlock system files.

20: Billions of dollars in estimated payments for global cyberinsurance premiums in 2025, up from $2 billion today. “Cybercriminals are… going after confidential high-value data from legal, accounting, architecture and engineering firms,” said one security expert.

30: Percent of 2015 ransomware attacks on businesses accidentally or maliciously caused by employees. More than nine in 10 breaches were found to be “easily avoidable,” according to the Online Trust Alliance study.

1,641: Daily ransomware strikes against Canadians, according to a 2016 report. Canada ranked fourth in activity behind the US, Germany and the UK.

2005: Year the first ransomware programs began with a single virus known as Trojan.Gpcoder. Today, the average ransom amount is US$300 paid in bitcoins or vouchers.

About the Author

Steve Brearton


Steve Brearton is a freelance writer in Toronto.

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