Startling statistics shed light on the worldwide ransomware epidemic

virus-1920630_960_720To say that the sharp rise in ransomware attacks over the last few years has been shocking would be a vast understatement. To get a clear idea of the staggering size and scope of the global ransomware problem, consider these statistics:

Frequency up 500%
Ransomware attacks have been rising steadily since the beginning of 2016. Last year, the world bore witness to a 500% increase ransomware incidents, according to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab. Part of that rise is due to the fact that there are more ways than ever for your devices to become infected with ransomware and other forms of malware. In one just three-month period 2016, a total of 75 new ransomware variants were discovered in the wild, according to security firm Ciphertechs. That means that CryptoWall and CryptoLocker are not the only ransomware names to watch out for anymore—cybercriminals are exploring every possible way to spread their file-encrypting computer viruses. Infected email attachments are still a popular method of delivering ransomware, but hack attacks that exploit security software holes are also on the rise. That’s why keeping software updated with the latest patches—and backing up all of your data—is a must.

More devices being targeted
Not only is the overall frequency of ransomware attacks increasing, but the actual number of devices being infected is rapidly growing as well. About 30,000 to 35,000 devices are infected every month now, though the number peaked at a whopping 56,000 devices in March of last year, according to BestSecuritySearch. And yes, this includes Apple products, too.

Ransom demands rising sharply
The ransom amounts being requested by the cybercriminals who use ransomware to take over victims’ computers is increasing as well – almost doubling, in fact. Whereas a typical ransom used to only be a couple hundred dollars, it is much more common to face a ransom closer to six or seven hundred dollars these days, according to malware detection firm Barkly. In the first three months of 2016 alone, Barkly reports that ransomware victims paid cybercriminals about $209 million, though FBI estimates are even higher.

Business attacks on the rise
Ransomware is a major threat to both individuals and businesses. About half of businesses experienced some kind of ransomware incident, according to a 2016 Osterman Research study.

So what can businesses do to protect themselves from ransomware? Three things are easy starts:

  • Make sure to back up your data before it’s too late—the numbers clearly show that none of us are immune to this threat. Backing up your data to the cloud is the easiest and most foolproof way to protect yourself and your business from the rising number of ransomware attacks.
  • Keep your antivirus and firewall software up-to-date. While security software tools like these are not foolproof, they can help you stop some forms of ransomware before they do any damage.
  • Educate your employees and staff about proper email protocols: How to identify bad links, sites, and attachments.

Taking these measures can make all the difference down the road because nobody wants to learn about ransomware the hard way—like I did.

For more news and information on the battle against ransomware, visit the FightRansomware.com homepage today.

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