London, 11th March 2016 - This year is shaping up to be the biggest yet for ransomware in the enterprise after the latest Trend Micro intelligence found infections among UK firms in February 2016 alone far exceeded the figures for the first six months of last year.
The stats speak for themselves: there were more than twice as many infections last month than in the entire first three months of 2015. If you add January and February’s tally together, it comes to more than triple the infection count for Q1 2015.
Ransomware has become a favourite way for cybercriminals to extort money out of businesses, with variants such as CyrptoWall and CryptoLocker causing havoc, disruption and significant monetary losses for their corporate victims.
So-called “crypto-ransomware” is now by far the most common type – accounting for 100% of UK enterprise infections in February and just 1% in January, according to the latest Trend Micro stats. It can be spread via malicious adverts, email attachments, web links or even booby-trapped smartphone apps.
If the victim’s machine or device is unprotected, the malware will encrypt their files and demand a fee in Bitcoin or similar within a certain timeframe to provide the decryption key. Failure to do so will result in the loss of those files forever. While this is a major headache for consumers, it can be even worse for organisations. Already in Germany and the US, hospitals have suffered major IT outages resulting in serious disruption to patient care.
It’s not just an enterprise issue. There were more UK SMB ransomware infections in February this year than in the first three quarters of 2015 combined. In fact, the UK’s share of global ransomware has jumped from 1% at the end of 2014 to almost 5% as of February 2016, with the biggest spike coming this year.
“While Ransomware initially just locked computers during startup, it now encrypts all valuable data as Crypto Ransomware and companies are increasingly at risk of losing their valuable assets”, said Raimund Genes, CTO at Trend Micro. “In order to retrieve these assets, a payment is usually requirement. This process fuels cybercrime and it’s up to all of us to dry this infamous business model out by putting an effective protection and recovery process in place.”
Trend Micro recommends businesses to keep systems patched and up-to-date and ensure they invest in advanced anti-malware tools with proven capabilities for spotting and blocking ransomware before it has a chance to infect systems.
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