The ransomware problem isn’t going away, and these grim figures prove it

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Up to 1,981 schools, 290 hospitals, 105 local governments and 44 universities and colleges were hit with ransomware in the US alone during 2022, demonstrating how ransomware attacks remain a significant cyber threat to the public sector and civil society. 

The figures on the number of government, education and healthcare sector organizations hit by ransomware attacks have been detailed by cybersecurity researchers at security company Emsisoft, who analysed disclosure statements, press reports, and information posted to the dark web

But the figures suggest that the true impact of ransomware is likely much higher because the data is largely based on publicly available reports — and many victims of ransomware attacks don’t disclose the incidents publicly.  

In total, 105 state and municipal government agencies disclosed that they were affected by ransomware attacks encrypting files and servers during 2022, an increase from 2021 where there were 77 reported attacks on government. 

Researchers suggest that much of the rise in reported ransomware attacks against local governments can be linked to a single incident in Miller County, Arkansas, where one compromised mainframe resulted in malware being spread to endpoints in 55 different counties. 

Data was stolen by cyber criminals in just over a quarter of the reported incidents — although Emsisoft notes that if the incident in Arkansas is disregarded, over half the attacks involved data being stolen. 

Ransomware cyber criminals steal data in a technique known as double extortion, where they’ll threaten to release

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