#BeCyberSmart: Ransomware — Understanding the basics and the cyber battlefield

Ransomware is an ever-evolving form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable. Malicious actors then demand ransom in exchange for decryption. They often target and threaten to sell or leak exfiltrated data or authentication information if the ransom is not paid. 

Ransomware incidents have become increasingly prevalent. According to global cybersecurity firm BlackFog, 2021 saw a 17% increase in reported ransomware attacks year over year. The U.S. accounts for more than 51% of ransomware attacks. Year-over-year, 2021 saw the biggest increase in ransomware in the retail sector with 100% growth, followed by technology (89%), healthcare (30%), and governments (24%).

Ransomware incidents severely impact business processes and leave organizations without the data they need to operate and deliver mission-critical services. The economic and reputational impacts of ransomware incidents, throughout the initial disruption and, at times, extended recovery, have also proven challenging for organizations large and small. 

In the latest installment of our #BeCyberSmart series, McAfee & Taft cybersecurity and privacy attorney Joshua Snavely talks with special guest Petek Unsal, Foresight Strategy Manager for Google, about the latest trends in ransomware and the cyber battlefield.

About our guest

S. Petek Unsal began as an arts major. After she completed her MBA, she got hired by Google in 2010. Her journey led her to the product development world of machine learning where she coordinated engineering efforts to fight “bad ads” in AdWords. Later, she joined Google Analytics to learn how Big Data and privacy by design lead to better products and then transitioned to the Security Strategy team to develop risk assessment frameworks that combine cyber and physical security aspects.  Today, Unsal is Google’s Foresight Strategy Manager developing the industry-first 2030 risk assessment program including framework, methodology and Alphabet wide operationalization.  She has been awarded eight times by her company for special achievements—three in 2019 for her work in this sector. In May 2019, Unsal earned a master’s degree in cybersecurity from Brown University.  She is a Crisis Counselor at crisistextline.com, lives in New York and enjoys skiing, jazz and krav maga in her free time.

This information is provided for clients and viewers of McAfee & Taft A Professional Corporation. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is not intended to create a lawyer-client relationship. Viewers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel..