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Ransomeware hackers are striking more frequently, taking down computer networks across businesses, hospital and governments, the New York Times reported on Sunday (Feb. 9).

Ransomware cyber-attacks are up 41 percent over last year, with 205,280 enterprises having lost access to hacked files, according to data from the ransomware security firm Emsisoft. Companies paid an average of $84,116 in the last quarter of 2019 to get their files back from online thieves, according to data from security firm Coveware.

“Anything of value that is smart and connected can be compromised and held for ransom,” said Steve Grobman, the chief technology officer at McAfee. “If critical infrastructure systems are held for ransom, what is our policy going to be for dealing with those?”

Municipalities are the only victims who have to publicly report cyber attacks. Public sectors are only around 10 percent of all victims last year, Coveware said.

It’s been over a month since Travelex was hit by the ransomware Sodinokibi, or REvil, which has stopped Barclays and other banks from handling foreign currency conversions.

In its most recent warning, the FBI said cyberattacks were becoming “more targeted, sophisticated, and costly.”

“What we find most concerning is that it causes not just direct costs, but also indirect costs of lost operations,” said Herbert Stapleton, FBI cyber section chief. “We certainly view it as one of the most serious cybercriminal problems we face right now.”

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, considers ransomware the “most widespread and financially damaging form of cyberattack.”

Cyber insurance claims in August spiked amid Sodinokibi attacks, a new type of ransomware targeting companies across the U.S. and Europe. The attackers demanded higher ransom, hijacking companies’ systems and demanding bitcoin payment in exchange for a decryption key.

Recent Sodinokibi ransom payoffs hit $150,000 and more compared to the average of under $50,000, insurance broker Gallagher.

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