What Cyber Extortion is and How to deal with it?

Initially regarded as a minor threat resembling other uncoordinated malware attacks, the recognition of cyber extortion as a phenomenon traces back to 2013. Over recent years, there has been a substantial evolution in the landscape, marked by cybercriminals embracing sophisticated and aggressive methods. These tactics have caused severe data breach for numerous businesses across the globe, highlighting the escalating severity and impact of cyber extortion in today’s digital era.

dealing with cyber crime

In the dynamic landscape of cybersecurity, staying vigilant is crucial for business leaders. The escalating threat of ransomware demands proactive measures to fortify defenses. To navigate this complex challenge, let’s delve into the nuances of cyber extortion, explore its potential ramifications on businesses, and elucidate the most effective strategies to safeguard against it.

Let’s get a deep insight about what exactly is cyber extortion.

Cyber extortion constitutes a broad spectrum of cybercrimes, involving instances where malicious actors leverage threats to impede the operations of a targeted business or disclose its confidential data causing data breach. The perpetrators demand payment as a coercive measure to avoid carrying out the threatened actions. This multifaceted form of cybercrime poses significant challenges to businesses in maintaining operational integrity and protecting sensitive information.

There are two main kinds of extortion namely, ransomware and DDOS


Ransomware, a type of malicious software (malware), is typically spread through emails, compromised websites, or deceptive networks. Cybercriminals exploit these avenues to deceive recipients and visitors, enticing them to click on infected links that result in the download of the malicious software. Upon installation, this software encrypts the victim’s files, rendering their computers and networks non-functional. Following this encryption, the perpetrators contact the victim, offering to decrypt the files in exchange for a ransom fee.


In DDoS attacks, multiple compromised computer systems work together to target a single entity, aiming to disrupt its services and temporarily render its network unusable. The ensuing website downtime can lead to significant financial losses, depending on the targeted business’s nature.

DDoS attacks often intersect with ransomware strategies. Cybercriminals frequently exploit the fear of DDoS attacks, demanding payment to prevent the threatened attack. Moreover, these malicious actors commonly employ the threat of exposing sensitive or confidential data, introducing the risk of data breach and even legal consequences in the form of lawsuits.

How have these threats been a threat in real life?

In the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses found themselves in a heightened state of vulnerability to cyber attacks. The widespread adoption of remote work and the substantial transition of daily operations to online platforms magnified security risks.

The year 2020 witnessed cybercrime victims collectively paying a ransom nearing $350 million, reflecting a remarkable 311% surge compared to 2019. Forecasts outlined in a 2021 Global Market Report suggested that cybercrimes might impose costs on businesses reaching up to $600 billion.

Notably, cybercrime operates as a lucrative and meticulously organized enterprise. A mere 199 deposit addresses played a pivotal role, capturing 80% of all funds stemming from ransomware attacks.

The significant costs associated with recovery present a tempting incentive for businesses to give in to cybercriminals, making them increasingly attractive targets for future attacks. A study highlights that the widespread tendency to comply with attackers’ demands has grown to a degree where companies could potentially encounter legal repercussions for such actions.

Are you still wondering if your company can be prone to threats? 

Cyber extortion doesn’t discriminate; it impacts businesses of all sizes and industries globally. According to Incident Response Studies, in 2020, cybercriminals favored professional services (34.45%), public service (17.79%), and manufacturing (14.72%), including sectors like law, accounting, and real estate.

Industries with lower, yet existing, risks comprised healthcare (12.13%), technology (8.89%), and finance (6.89%). Any business relying on email, open data storage, or communication channels is susceptible to cyber extortion.

Furthermore, the likelihood of a business paying a ransom increases with the cost of website downtime. However, giving in to ransom payment places the business on the cybercriminals’ payers list, making them likely targets for repeated attacks and subsequent financial losses.

How can businesses protect themselves from cyber extortion? 

protection from cyber extortion

As the threat of cybercrime continues to rise, it is crucial to strengthen your systems and protocols to effectively navigate the evolving hazards of digital technology. This discussion will explore the recommended methods and procedures provided by experts to address cyber extortion, cybercrime and data breach especially.

It’s important to recognize that, although no method is foolproof, cybersecurity requires ongoing dedication and investment to ensure the continuous protection of your business.

1. employee training and education 

In the realm of cybersecurity, employee training and education are imperative. A 2019 report highlights that social engineering contributes to up to 99% of cyber attacks, with phishing being the predominant form of social engineering attack, spreading malware through infected email attachments and compromised websites.

Cyber attacks vary in automation, ranging from malicious email links sent indiscriminately to large lists to meticulously crafted ones closely resembling professional emails. Cybercriminals meticulously design emails, focusing on details such as design, wording, and signatures, to deceive even the most vigilant employees.

This accentuates the critical role of employee training and education in cybersecurity to protect your business. Simple practices, like identifying phishing emails and refraining from sharing sensitive data on social media, can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to cyber attacks and data breach. Offering tailored cybersecurity training modules for your employees, customized to your business needs, is an effective approach to bolstering the security of your business.

2. robust cybersecurity protocols

Establishing robust cybersecurity protocols is paramount to mitigating the risk of human error across your company. Key measures include:

1. Activate Spam Filters: 

Ensure that all employees activate their spam filters to minimize the influx of potentially malicious emails into their inboxes.

2. Encrypt Sensitive Information: 

Employ encryption for client credit card details and other sensitive information, limiting access to necessary employees when required.

3. Mandate Complex Passwords:

Implement systems that enforce complex passwords, reducing reliance on employees to generate original password content.

4. Regular Software Updates: 

Conduct regular updates of operating systems and security software to prevent vulnerabilities, recognizing that legacy software is a prime target for cyber attacks.

Integrating an effective firewall into your existing protocols serves as an additional layer of defense, mitigating the human element involved. The firewall acts as a vigilant gatekeeper for all incoming and outgoing traffic within your company, shielding your network from cybercriminals attempting to data breach your systems. This not only reduces the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information but also limits employee access to data they don’t require. In essence, the firewall contributes to a robust defense strategy by making it challenging for authorized personnel to access sensitive data.

3. Exploring VPN Solutions to Secure Remote Workforces

While a centralized office setting facilitates vigilant monitoring of incoming and outgoing traffic through a firewall, the dynamics shift when employees transition to remote work. This change exposes your business to heightened vulnerability against cyber attacks.

Remote employees relying on public Wi-Fi from various locations, such as coffee shops or friends’ houses, pose substantial security risks. The diverse array of solutions and networks used by remote employees makes ensuring a consistently high level of protection nearly impossible. Introducing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) solution can mitigate some of these risks. A VPN establishes a secure connection, masking your team’s location and digital footprint. This ensures that your network remains anonymous, confidential, and, crucially, standardized. Encouraging all employees to use the same VPN minimizes the risk of human error, allowing you to proactively address and manage security risks.

4. Regularly backing up data

backing up data

Regularly backing up data is a crucial practice to fortify your business against potential threats and maintain operational continuity in the face of data breach. In the event of a malware infection on a computer, consistent backups provide a means to counter the threat and recover vital data.

To optimize the effectiveness of data backups, establishing a dedicated backup protocol is imperative. This involves daily backups to portable devices or cloud storage at varying intervals, including daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly cycles. Regular assessments of the backup data’s integrity and restorability are essential. Additionally, enhance the security of your cloud-based backup data by implementing encryption and prioritize the use of multi-step authentication for an added layer of protection.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top