News & Announcements

January 4, 2021

How The Pandemic Has Helped Increase Ransomware Attacks

Man holding smartphone with warning about virus attack at table, closeup

The transition to a remote workforce in 2020 triggered an unprecedented increase in the use of personal devices and residential networks for business operations. This created a feeding frenzy for cybercriminals and a 400% increase in cybercrimes, a 350% increase in phishing, and a 139% increase in ransomware attacks YoY.

According to, the number of attacks increased along with the cost of not paying the ransom. IT specialists who could help a company or individual regain the use of their computers without a ransom payment were in high demand and could charge more.

While ransomware accounted for almost 41% of cyber insurance claims in the first half of 2020 and was skewing higher in the second half of the year, experts expect the number of attacks to continue to rise in 2021.

How to protect yourself

There are some simple yet important steps you can take to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of a cyberattack:

  1. Keep your virus software up-to-date
  2. Check the sent-from email address for all of your emails before opening them. If the address looks questionable, do not open it and delete it from your inbox.
  3. Familiarize yourself with your back-up system on your device so you can more easily restore your system.
  4. If you are attacked, do not pay the ransom. You have no guarantee the cybercriminal will actually free up your computer and doing so will only encourage more attacks.
  5. If you have any critical documents on your computer, consider storing them in the cloud or on a flash drive.
  6. Change your default passwords across all of your access points. While email is the main point of entry, many cybercriminals use bots to try and find password entry, and others use remote control of PCs as an avenue.
  7. And, don’t ever use an unfamiliar flash drive. Criminals have been known to leave infected USB sticks at coffee shops, on walkways outside of businesses, and other unsuspecting places to lure users into their web.
  8. If your identity is stolen due to a cyberattack, Mutual Assurance offers assistance through its partnership with Cyberscout. You may call your Mutual representative for more information.