Cyber-extortionists target companies in all industry sectors, he said, and of all sizes.
"There isn't necessarily any rhyme or reason," he said. "They're just going after the companies they feel they can victimize the most."
Meanwhile, defending against these kinds of attacks is like defending against any other kind of breach, he said. Enterprises should have strong information security programs, keep their patches up to date, do regular vulnerability assessments, have proper access controls, and make sure that the only people who can see the source code are those who have a need to know.
The highly targeted enterprise-focused cyber-extortion attacks are very different from CryptoLocker and its variants.
CryptoLocker is malware that spreads itself, and targets individual machines instead of entire companies. Ransom amounts tend to be low, typically at around a couple of hundred dollars. Defending against CryptoLocker involves keeping systems patched, antivirus up to date, and having good backups.
"Having very good backups solves the CryptoLocker problem," he said. "You can just delete the system and restore the data from the backup."
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