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Why Ransomware is the Deadliest Malware

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According to a report ransomware was the most commonly detected malware in data breaches and related security incidents last year. Read on to know why ransomware is the deadliest malware reported till now…

According to the Verizon’s ‘2018 Data Breach Investigations Report’, ransomware was the most commonly detected malware in data breaches and related security incidents in 2017, climbing from fourth overall in 2016 and all the way from the 22nd spot five years ago. Verizon says that ransomware keeps its hold on your data.

Ransomware accounted for 39% of all new malware infections tallied up in the Verizon report, which looks at more than 53,000 security incidents drawn from Verizon cybersecurity customers as well as reports from the US Secret Service and an International consortium of private sector companies.

Dave Hylender, senior risk analyst at Verizon Business and a co-author of Verizon’s report said that — ransomware is not just a hot hacking trend. It is a lucrative, growing form of cyberattack that can throw governments, schools, hospitals and businesses into chaos. Worse, we are not getting any better at stopping it. “While we are certainly more aware of it, there are still a lot of people who are falling for it,” Hylender said.

Case History
Few months back in the US, hackers took over the Atlanta city government’s computer systems, scrambled up important files and refused to give back access until the city paid a $51,000 ransom to be paid in bitcoin. That’s an experience that lots of organizations have faced in the past year. Few months back, Baltimore found itself locked out of computers involved in its 911 emergency response system. And Boeing was also hit with a ransomware attack. These aren’t just isolated incidents. According to the Verizon’s annual Data Breach Investigations Report, ransomware attacks doubled in 2017. That’s especially alarming considering that they doubled the year before, too.

Bryan Sartin, executive director, security professional services at Verizon, in a press release said that “Ransomware remains a significant threat for companies of all sizes,”. He added “It is now the most prevalent form of malware, and its use has increased significantly over recent years. What is interesting to us is that businesses are still not investing in appropriate security strategies to combat ransomware, meaning they end up with no option but to pay the ransom – the cybercriminal is the only winner here!”

Critical Statistics
Based on its research data, Verizon recorded 53,308 security incidents in 65 countries during the period of Nov. 1, 2016 to Oct. 31, 2017 — over 11,000 more events than the previous annual period. Verizon also registered 2,216 data breaches over the past year’s worth of data collection, compared to 1,935 the previous year.

Malware was involved in a far smaller share of breaches this time around, compared to the previous year — 30% versus 51%, respectively — but when malware was found, ransomware was determined to be the culprit a leading 39% of the time. Verizon noted ransomware attacks increasingly targeted critical systems and data centers, rendering entire businesses inoperable while strengthening cybercriminals’ leverage and ballooning their ransom demands.

Other Breaches
Outside of ransomware, other tactics used to facilitate breaches were hacking (the leading category, representing 48 percent of breaches), followed by errors (17%), social engineering attacks (17%), privilege misuse (12%) and physical actions (11%).

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