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Cybersecurity experts say ransomware attacks are up 300% over the past several months

It’s a global trend mainly impacting health care and energy industries like the Colonial Pipeline.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline has forced other organizations to take a closer look at their own cybersecurity to prevent falling victim as well.

Check Point Research shows attacks in the U.S. have increased by 300% in the past nine months. Experts say any company can be at risk of a ransomware attack, but industries that are most critical and profitable, like health care and utilities, are at the highest risk.

“When there’s a successful attack against that infrastructure they are very likely to pay and pay fast to get out of the situation they are in,” Check Point Software Technologies Director of Engineering Joel Hollenbeck said.

RELATED: Colonial Pipeline restarts operations, warns it will be days to return to normal

Credit: Check Point Software Technologies

Hollenbeck fears paying the ransom may increase the likelihood of this cycle of attacks continuing as cybercriminals get more money and influence. In some cases, organizations do have cyber insurance they can use, but tracking down the exact person responsible for the attack can be difficult.

“Oftentimes, the attackers reside in locations where it’s very difficult to extradite people, to bring charges against them or identify them,” Hollenbeck said.

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Resolving these hacks can also take time which is why experts say prevention is key.

“In almost every instance it comes down to basic cybersecurity hygiene,” Hollenbeck said. “Everybody needs to review to make sure they have up-to-date patches, they have anti-ransomware solutions and doing the necessary user education.”

RELATED: Colonial Pipeline restarts system, operations getting back to normal

Contact Briana Harper at bharper@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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