Ransomware mafias sophisticated nature revealed: they already take into account the income of their victims when demanding a ransom, according to an IBM investigation.

Ransomware attacks are increasing and the amounts that cybercriminals demand as a ransom too. This is the first conclusion of a report published by IBM and its computer Incident Response Team, the Security X-Force Incident Response team.

The mafias that organize these cyber attacks are sophisticated the method by which they decide how much money to demand from their victims in exchange for recovering their locked or stolen files during the attack. IBM's Security X-Force Incident Response team had to deal with up to three times this type of incident in the second quarter of the year, compared to the immediately prior quarter.

Ransomware cyberattacks are very simple to explain: attackers inoculate into the corporate networks of their victims a malicious program that is able to encrypt all the files of their target. In order to restore their files to normal, victims will be forced to pay a ransom-usually in cryptocurrencies-to their attackers.

So far in 2020 it has been seen how many of the mafias that execute this type of attacks have turned the process around: now they not only ask for a ransom for decrypting the affected files, they also ask for money to prevent files that have been stolen during the process from being filtered or sold to the highest bidder in an internet auction.

Ransomware mafias sophisticated nature revealed

In the IBM report echoed by ZDNet, it is seen how according to agents of the firm's Cyber Incident Team have had to face a hot summer. June, for example, has been the month in which almost a third of ransomware cyberattacks have occurred so far this year —and in which the Security X-Force Incident Response team has intervened.

IBM also notes precisely this trend: what used to be mere ransomware attacks have now also become loopholes through which cybercriminals steal sensitive data and information. It also highlights some of the sectors most under attack globally: manufacturing, services and public administration.

"Attacks in these three sectors suggest that ransomware attackers seek targets with a low tolerance to a blackout, such as the manufacturing industry. Companies that depend heavily on their production times can lose millions of dollars each day for a halt in their operations. Therefore, they will be more willing to pay a ransom and restore their processes, " the firm stresses in the report.

One of the groups of cybercriminals who have most fiercely acted during the COVID-19 pandemic are those who operate the ransomware known as Sodinokibi or rEVIL. The collective that operates this malicious program also attacked Spanish firms such as Adif, the public company that manages Spain's rail network this summer. He also stole documents from the law firm of celebrities like Donald Trump or Madonna.

IBM details that at least 140 companies have been victims of Sodinokibi and at least one in three have paid the ransom. 12% of its targets would have seen cybercriminals sell their sensitive information through online auctions. The auctions reached prices between $ 5,000 and $ 20 million.

"Our researchers also point out that sodinokibi attackers take into account the annual income of their victims when demanding a ransom, and ask for a range of between 0.08% and 9.1% of their annual income," the document details.

End of Ransomware mafias sophisticated nature revealed

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A team of scientists creates a test capable of diagnosing COVID - 19 in half an hour with the same accuracy as a PCR

A research team from Pohang University of Science and Technology (South Korea) has developed a technology that can diagnose COVID-19 in half an hour.

The diagnostic kit created detects the presence of RNA of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, with the same accuracy as a PCR.

PCR tests have been the most used to diagnose COVID-19 because of their high accuracy, but their complexity and high cost have meant that, from the beginning, governments and health authorities have sought alternatives to accelerate the response to the pandemic.

For example, recently the community of Madrid bought 2 million antigen tests to diagnose coronavirus quickly. While PCR tests collect the genetic material of the coronavirus, antigen tests record the surface proteins of the virus. They are easier to detect, making testing faster and cheaper, and potentially available for use at home.

For its part, the technology developed by the Pohang University of Science and technology causes the binding reaction of nucleic acid that shows fluorescence only when COVID-19 RNA is present.

Therefore, the virus can be detected immediately without any preparation process with high sensitivity in a short time and is as accurate as a PCR, they assure.

"The PCR currently used for the diagnosis of COVID - 19 is not suitable for use in small agricultural or fishing villages, or in screening clinics at airports or stations, as it requires expensive equipment as well as qualified experts," note the scientists who have developed the new technology.

Therefore, they emphasize that the great advantage of their kit is that it can be developed in a simple way, is portable and easy to use. It allows on-site diagnosis at any location without the need to go to a hospital and, by decongesting health systems and delivering results within 30 minutes, can help improve the response to the pandemic.

In addition, they point out, a new kit could develop in just a week if a new infectious disease other than COVID-19 appeared, they say.

In fact, the team has tested five other pathogenic viruses that reveal that the kit is capable of diagnosing other diseases.

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