Crypto-ransomware attacks grow 5.5 times in last 12 months

Other types of ransomware increased by 17.7 per cent year-on-year

Kaspersky has revealed that crypto-ransomware attacks have grown 5.5 times over the last year, while other types of ransomware hacks have increased by 17.7 per cent.

Crypto-ransomware is used to scramble the data on a victim's system and then the criminal demands payment to decrypt that information. Kaspersky believes these types of attack have reached such high levels, they could soon be considered an epidemic in the world of cyber-crime.

These types of hacks are most prevalent in Germany, Italy and the US, although this does not mean UK businesses are safe from being targeted.

"The biggest problem with crypto-ransomware today is that sometimes the only way to get the encrypted data back is to pay the criminals, and victims tend to pay," Fedor Sinitsyn, senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab, said.

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"That brings a lot of money into the underground ecosystem that has grown up around this malware, and as a result we are seeing new cryptors appear almost daily."

However, other types of ransomware attacks have reduced in number compared to 2014-2015. For example, blocker attacks, which lock the screen of a device before demanding payment are down 13 per cent.

"Companies and regular users can protect themselves by implementing regular backups, using a proven security solution and keeping themselves informed about current cybersecurity risks," Sinitsyn added.

"The ransomware business model seems to be profitable and safe for criminals, and the security industry and users can change that just by implementing these basic measures."

Kaspersky advised businesses to avoid becoming the target of an attack by backing up systems so encrypted files can still be accessed in the event of a system hack, installing a corporate-grade security solution (plus ensuring they are regularly patched, alongside all other software running on systems) and avoid paying the ransom when one is demanded. Instead, the attack should be reported to the police.

Staff should also be trained to identify such attacks and encouraged not to respond to suspicious requests.

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