In The Ransomware Battle, Cybercriminals Have The Upper Hand

In The Ransomware Battle, Cybercriminals Have The Upper Hand

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Washington, D.C., Police Chief Robert Contee addresses reporters in January. The police department has acknowledged that its computer network has been breached by attackers seeking a ransom. Such attacks against local governments, hospitals and corporations have been rising sharply. Bill O'Leary/AP hide caption

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Bill O'Leary/AP

The NBA's Houston Rockets were hit by a ransomware attack earlier this month. Now it's the Washington, D.C., police department. The common thread is a ransomware group called Babuk, which was unknown and likely didn't exist until it began posting on the dark web early this year.

This group is just one of many that reflect the proliferation of ransomware outfits that are increasingly sophisticated, specialized and largely beyond the reach of law enforcement.

In short, the cybercriminals have the upper hand, while U.S. authorities and those targeted are struggling to keep up, according to cybersecurity experts.

"There are certainly cases where people have been caught for running ransomware attacks, but it seems like it is a pretty small minority," said Ryan Olson, vice president of threat intelligence at the cybersecurity firm Palo ..