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2018 could be the worst year yet for cyber-attacks

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/scyther5)

As cyber attacks have become increasingly sophisticated and cybercriminals have honed their social engineering skills, new research warns that 2018 could be the worst year yet for cyber-attacks and data loss. 

A new data protection survey commissioned by Acronis has revealed that 60 per cent of respondents have never heard of ransomware (opens in new tab).  This is quite surprising as this attack method cost businesses and individuals $5bn (opens in new tab) last year and is expected to cost more than $11bn (opens in new tab) in 2019. 

Preventing and detecting ransomware became increasingly difficult in 2017 as the number of ransomware variants increased by 46 per cent.  Security experts expect ransomware attacks to continue to multiply and Cybersecurity Ventures (opens in new tab) predicts that in the next two years a business will be attacked every 14 seconds which is up from 40 seconds this year. 

The cost to individuals and businesses will likely only increase without the proper education necessary to understand what ransomware is and how to avoid falling victim to an attack.  To make matters worse, the cybercriminals behind these attacks have perfected their social engineering skills (opens in new tab) which they use to exploit security flaws to bypass traditional anti-virus software.    

Attackers understand the effectiveness of a backup when it comes to stopping ransomware and this is why many new strains specifically target backup files and backup software.  Of those surveyed by Acronis, 62 per cent did not even know that ransomware has the power to encrypt files and backups.  Even more surprisingly, 33 per cent reported that they do not backup their own data. 

President of Acronis, John Zanni stressed the importance of ensuring your data is backed up, saying: 

“Ransomware attacks have made headlines over the past year. Yet despite the growing number attacks, the awareness of the problem and the importance of preventing the attacks seem to be slowing downAwareness to help people realise the importance of securely backing up and protecting data needs to grow. As part of our 15th anniversary, we’re committed to helping people protect their data, no matter where it resides.” 

As World Backup Day (opens in new tab) approaches on the 31st, Acronis recommends that users backup their data locally and in the cloud, keep their operating system and software up to date, remain mindful of suspicious links and attachments in their email and install an anti-virus program on all of their systems. 

Image Credit: Scyther5 / Shutterstock

After getting his start at ITProPortal and then working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches to how to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.