Colonial Pipeline storage tanks in Austell, Georgia (Image: John Spink/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS/ABACAPRESS.COM)

While ransomware attacks are multiplying rapidly for private corporations, don't expect our cybersecurity agencies to do much other than warn about them. In fact, they remain a core part of the problem of what will become a key element of 21st century life -- the vulnerability of even the largest corporations to being locked out of their own data and systems.

By one count, ransomware attacks have increased 62% globally since 2019, and more than 150% in North America. That skewing reflects the fact that several major ransomware groups operate with relative impunity from Russia, on the proviso that they never attack Russian institutions.

This week a major US fuel pipeline was shut down by Russian ransomware group DarkSide, leading to Colonial Pipeline paying around US$5 million to the hackers.