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Malware and ransomware see huge rises across the world

(Image credit: Image Credit: Leolintang / Shutterstock)

Malware and ransomware attacks have returned in record numbers during the first half of 2018 according to the mid-year update to SonicWall's annual Cyber Threat Report.

Last year's malware boom is showing no signs of slowing down and the firm's threat researchers recorded 5.99bn malware attacks during the first half of 2018 compared to 2.97bn during the same period in 2017. The volume of malware attacks remained consistent in the first quarter before dropping to less than one billion per month across April, May and June.

In its original report, SonicWall found that ransomware attacks had dropped significantly from 645m to 184m between 2016 and 2017. During the first half of this year though, ransomware attacks surged and so far there have been 181.5m attacks year to date marking a 229 per cent increase over the same time frame in 2017.

The firm's researchers also discovered that the use of encryption has grown for both legitimate traffic and malicious cyberattacks. Throughout the first half of 2018, 69.7 per cent of sessions leveraged encryption.

Cybercriminals have turned to encryption as a means of preventing their malicious payloads from being discovered. When compared to the first half of 2017, encrypted attacks have increased by 275 per cent. 

SonicWall CEO Bill Conner offered further insight on the increased adoption of encryption by cybercriminals, saying:

“Encrypted attacks are a critical challenge in the industry. Far too few organizations are aware that cybercriminals are using encryption to circumvent traditional networks security controls, and others aren’t activating new mitigation techniques, such Deep Packet Inspection of SSL and TLS traffic (DPI-SSL). We predict encrypted attacks to increase in scale and sophistication until they become the standard for malware delivery. And we’re not that far off.” 

Image Credit: Leolintang / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.