Educational services across the globe have been witnessing a surge in ransomware attacks in 2020. According to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigation Report, ransomware attacks account for approximately 80% of all cyberattacks suffered.

The data suggests 92% of these incidents were motivated by financial reasons, while only 3% aimed to perform espionage activities on businesses operating within education.

A sharp increase in ransomware attacks since 2019

Ransomware attacks are growing at an alarming rate. Currently accounting for an overwhelming majority of all cyberattacks, ransomware was just 48% of the whole during 2019. Phishing is partially to blame here — ransomware attacks are more commonly made through fake websites than through emails.

Verizon report also says that that attackers don't even need to be able to do the work themselves — they can rent the malicious software as a service. Verizon furthermore states that many companies still have a considerable lack of protection against ransomware, which also explains the increase.

Casey Ellis is founder and CTO of security company Bugcrowd. Speaking to Cointelegraph, he highlighted that many companies are vulnerable to the rise in ransomware in the age of COVID-19:

"As more organizations shift to remote work, we can expect to see more targeted ransomware attacks against remote working employees. Attackers will capitalize on vulnerabilities in the outside perimeter, allowing for more effective and destructive phishing attacks, such as subdomain takeovers, due to the high amount of rushed domain and configuration changes."

Although ransomware can be mostly be executed by publicly known vulnerabilities, Ellis expects to see an increase of sophisticated attacks across all industries.