With the number of cyberattacks reaching an all-time high, more and more people are opening their mailboxes or inboxes to find a “Notice of Data Breach.” However, while these letters provide you with some useful information about how the breach occurred, what type of information was involved, and what the company’s done since then to prevent similar attacks from occurring in the future, they rarely tell the whole story. Frequently, data breach letters leave out key facts, and more often than not, these are facts that consumers need to know, for example, if the data breach was the result of a ransomware attack.
Ransomware attacks are one of the most common types of cyberattacks. They are also among the most likely to result in identity theft or fraud. Read on to learn more about what ransomware attacks are, how they happen, and what you can do to hold a negligent company accountable for leaking your information in the wake of a ransomware attack.
Data breaches resulting from ransomware attacks put your information in the hands of criminals who can use your information to steal your identity. However, as a data breach victim, you have options and it’s essential you understand what they are. Roughly 80 percent of data breach victims suffer financial losses in excess of $1,000, and you can’t always prevent a hacker from using your information to commit identity theft or other frauds. However, United States data breach laws allow victims to bring a lawsuit against the company responsible for leaking their information. At the law firm of Console & Associates, P.C., our data breach lawyers investigate breaches on behalf of consumers and help them explore their legal remedies. We offer free consultations to data breach victims, during which we will explain your rights in clear, understandable terms so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed with your case.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, that hackers use to block access to a company’s computer network. Typically, once ransomware is installed on a computer or network, it encrypts some or all of the data, preventing employees and management from accessing the files. Ransomware also allows hackers to access encrypted files from the company’s server.
Encryption is a process that encodes files, making them inaccessible to anyone without the encryption key (which is usually a password). People regularly encrypt files to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access. However, cybercriminals also use encryption when carrying out ransomware attacks.
Once hackers have gained access to a company’s network, they essentially hold both the computer system and the information contained on the system hostage. This is where the “ransom” comes in; hackers leave a message for an administrator demanding the payment of a monetary ransom in exchange for the encryption key. Typically, hackers will give a company a certain amount of time to pay the ransom; however, if a company responds willing to negotiate, the hackers will often extend the period of time to make the ransom payment. To add incentive for the company to pay the ransom, hackers often threaten to publish the stolen data on the dark web if the company doesn’t cooperate. Some, but not all, ransomware groups will also send the company a “sample” of the stolen data, proving that the attack was successful.
Ransomware attacks are very sophisticated and are not typically carried out by a single person. Instead, hackers band together to form ransomware groups, such as Conti, LockBit, and Hive. These groups are highly secretive and are believed to be based overseas. Because ransomware gangs have significant resources at their disposal, they have developed a number of ways to carry out their attacks.
Many ransomware attacks start off with a phishing email. Phishing is a technique where hackers send an employee an email hoping to get them to provide the hacker with access to their employer’s computer network. In a phishing email, hackers either try to trick the employee into giving them information or trick them into clicking on a malicious link.
In the body of the email, hackers rely on principles of social engineering to make the employee believe as though they should go ahead and do what the email suggests without the need to confirm their decision with management. For example, a phishing email might ask for an employee’s login information in an email explaining that someone attempted to access the employee’s email account, and now the employee needs to “sign-in” to change their password. However, in reality, this is just a trick designed to give the hacker access to the victim employee’s device and, in turn, their employer’s computer network.
Of course, hackers disguise their attempts by sending phishing emails from a seemingly legitimate source. And phishing emails are designed to look official. For the most part, hackers are very skilled at creating fraudulent emails and may use the correct company logo and will even use a very official-sounding email address. Hackers are so skilled at their craft that the Identity Theft Resource Center found that 86% of companies reported having at least one employee click a phishing link in 2021.
If you were the victim of a data breach, you are not alone.
Yes, a significant number of the ransomware attacks that occur each year are entirely preventable. Of course, there is nothing that consumers can do to prevent a ransomware attack; companies are the only ones with the ability to defend against these attacks.
For example, because a large number of ransomware attacks use phishing emails, corporations should train their employees on how to recognize a phishing email. Indeed, many large corporations have already started doing this because they recognize the threat these attacks pose not only to their bottom line but also to society as a whole.
Companies should also invest in a robust data security system. Hackers have superior technical knowledge that allows them to exploit vulnerabilities in outdated or inadequate data security systems. By creating and maintaining a cutting-edge security system, companies can deter many hackers from attempting an attack and may be able to recognize signs of an intrusion much earlier, limiting the impact of the attack.
Under U.S. data breach and consumer protection, the organization responsible for leaking your information may be liable through a data breach lawsuit. However, just because a breach occurred and your information was compromised doesn’t necessarily mean that the company you trusted with your information is liable. As a general rule, it is only when a company’s negligence was a contributing factor leading up to the breach that it is legally liable for a victim’s damages.
Proving negligence in a data breach case can be challenging based on both the underlying technology involved as well as the complex legal principles that apply in these cases. Thus, anyone who is interested in learning more about pursuing a claim for compensation in the aftermath of a data breach caused by a ransomware attack should reach out to an experienced data breach lawyer for immediate assistance.
At Console & Associates, P.C., our data breach lawyers actively monitor all reported data breaches in an effort to help consumers understand and pursue their legal remedies. Companies that negligently store your information leading up to a data breach can and should be held accountable. Not only will a successful claim compensate you for your damages, but it will also encourage companies to take their data privacy responsibilities more seriously in the future. If you’ve been affected by a data breach, Console & Associates, P.C., will investigate your case at no charge and offer you thorough advice about how to most effectively proceed with your case. If you decide to bring a case, we only get paid if you do. If your claim is successful, any legal fees are either paid by the defendant or come out of the funds recovered from the defendant. If your claim doesn’t result in a recovery, you will pay nothing.
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