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As the number of cyberattacks grow from a variety of different angles, look no further than the United Kingdom for how compromised systems can have an economic impact. According to a release from international law firm RPC, the financial information belonging to approximately 42.2 million people in the U.K. was surrendered due to a growing number of ransomware attacks.

“The surprisingly high number of people whose financial data was impacted in the last year shows how cyber-attacks have become endemic,” said RPC partner Richard Breavington. “Hackers are continually refining their methods, employing ever more complex techniques to extort money in whatever way they can. Some businesses, fearing the potential reputational costs, not to mention other consequences, decide that they will take the last ditch approach of paying the ransom demands. As a result, these attacks have become very lucrative for cybercriminals.”

The rise of cyberattacks in the U.K.

The increasing rate of cyberattacks is staggering, in the U.K. particularly. In 2019-2020, 2.2 million people’s data was compromised compared to 42.2 million in 2021- 2022, which is a staggering rise of more than 1,700% in just three years. The increase of data as a whole was pointed to as one of the potential reasons for this jump in jeopardizing citizens’ sensitive information. Once the data is compromised through either malware or ransomware, the cybercriminal network will then sell data in a marketplace and potentially hold financial institutions for ransom.

Breavington explains in the release that “criminal gangs are doing this, because their blackmail threats over encryption alone are becoming less effective as businesses get better at backing up their systems. But hackers have honed their tactics and added this additional form of blackmail.”

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With a number of organizations finding it easier to simply pay the ransom to attackers, this has led to many hacking groups ramping up the number of attacks executed in just a short span of time. As illustrated earlier this month, sometimes ransomware and cyber threat groups will find entry into an enterprise’s system and survey the inner workings for various lengths of time before carrying out an attack.

“Before carrying out an attack, hackers are increasingly carrying out reconnaissance to scope out protections that are in place, as well as data held by the company,” Breavington said. “Businesses should not be making their jobs easier by signposting this information.”

The skyrocketing number of cyberattacks have left many consumers feeling less confident that companies can keep their financial information secure. Because of this, it is important for many organizations to realize that it is their responsibility to increase layers of security, have a 24/7 approach to cybersecurity and online threats and constantly be self-auditing their processes to make sure they are doing everything possible to earn back that lost trust.