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UK a big target for ransomware, security firm says

Out of all ransomware-infected emails detected by security firm Bitdefender (opens in new tab)in 2016, 9.1 per cent has targeted UK users, the company said in a press release.

Furthermore 54 per cent of all malware files targeting the UK contained some form of ransomware. The company added that CryptoWall 4.0 has grown increasingly hard to detect and almost impossible to stop.

In terms of percentage, the UK is only bested by the US, who has been targeted by 21.2 per cent of all malicious email infections.

In June 2015, the FBI issued a warning recognising CryptoWall “as the most current and significant ransomware threat targeting U.S. individuals and businesses.” Bitdefender reports show that 61.8 per cent of all malware files targeting US internet users contained some form of ransomware: mostly Cryptowall, CryptoLocker and other iterations.

This means hundreds of thousands of users received and opened a ransomware-infected email message in 2015. The US is closely followed by France (55.8 per cent); the UK (54.5 per cent); Romania (50.2 per cent); Australia (47.9 per cent); Denmark (42.3 per cent) and Germany (30.2 per cent).

“These numbers show that ransomware masterminds have made countries such as the UK and US priority targets to attack, most likely because they consider both to be highly profitable markets,” states Catalin Cosoi, Chief Security Strategist at Bitdefender. “In 2015, the creators of the notorious CryptoWall ransomware have managed to extort more than $325 million from US victims. We also have to consider the use of sophisticated encryption algorithms that often leave victims no choice but to pay the ransom. In some cases, the FBI itself has encouraged companies to settle the ransom.”

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.