In a blog post, the company said it had drawn the conclusion based on 100,001 submissions about ransomware attacks by groups that take aim at companies and public sector agencies, which it had received between January and June.
Of these submissions, 11.642, or a shade more than 11%, were from attacks by groups that were overtly stealing data, the New Zealand headquartered Emsisoft said.
Practically all ransomware attacks target the Windows operating system; recently, a rare case of Mac ransomware was reported, with the malware spreading through pirated software.
"The stolen information could be used to spear phish victim organisations’ clients and business partners or be used to commit other forms of fraud, such as business email compromise," it explained. "In other words, one crime can lead to many."
Looking at what this data meant to the US public sector - a sector that Emsisoft has researched thoroughly - the firm said that in 2019, while there attacks on at least 996 government entities, educational establishment and healthcare providers, only in one case was data exfiltrated and published: the City of Pensacole in Florida.
If the same number was affected in 2020, then, based on the sample studied, one could expect about 106 to suffer data publication and theft, Emsisoft reasoned.
Additionally, the company said, all ransomware groups were able to exfiltrate data, but while some used the overt theft of stolen data to threaten victims and extort payment, other groups were content with covert theft.
Emsisoft offered the following suggestions for organisations to guard against ransomware attacks:
- Use multi-factor authentication everywhere that it can be used;
- Limit admin rights;
- Disable RDP (remote desktop protocol) if not needed and lock it down if it is;
- Segment the network;
- Use email and Web filtering;
- Patch promptly;
- Disable PowerShell when not needed;
- Assume the perimeter will be breached and ensure tools and processes are in place to monitor for indications of compromise;
- Ensure that MSPs (managed service providers) and other service providers adhere to best practices; and
- Conduct security awareness training on an ongoing basis.