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Prior to an attack, ransomware actors research publicly available information, such as a victim's stock valuation, as well as material nonpublic information.

The US has warned that ransomware hacking groups are now targeting companies involved in "significant, time-sensitive financial events" and people whose private financial information they have gained access to. In a latest advisory to private firms, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said that ransomware actors are very likely using significant financial events, such as mergers and acquisitions, to target and leverage victimcompanies for ransomware infections.

"Prior to an attack, ransomware actors research publicly available information, such as a victim's stock valuation, as well as material nonpublic information. If victims do not pay a ransom quickly, ransomware actors will threaten to disclose this information publicly, causing potential investor backlash," the FBI said in its report. During the initial reconnaissance phase, cyber criminals identify non-publicly available information, which they threaten to release or use as leverage during the extortion to entice victims to comply with ransom demands.

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