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Ransomware attacks hit new high in 2017

(Image credit: Image Credit: WK1003Mike / Shutterstock )

2017 may go down as the year of ransomware, with major attacks such as WannaCry and NotPetya making headlines around the world.

However it is the latter which has taken top spot in a report by one of the world's top security companies, emerging on top of 2017's nastiest ransomware attacks.

The report from Webroot placed NotPetya as the number one ransomware strain of 2017 after it infected hundreds of thousands of devices across more than 100 countries within just a few days. The attack was also ranked highly as it was engineered specifically to damage critical infrastructure, affecting national organisations as well as companies.

WannaCry was ranked second by Webroot, having also infected hundreds or thousands of devices around the world by utilising the EternalBlue exploit.

Among the other entries in the 2017 top 10 list were Locky (ranked third following a recent resurgence for 2016's top entity), CrySis (fourth) and Cerber (eighth).

“This past year was unlike anything we’ve ever seen," said David Dufour, vice president of engineering and cybersecurity at Webroot.

"Attacks such as NotPetya and WannaCry were hijacking computers worldwide and spreading new infections through tried-and-true methods. This list is further evidence that cybercriminals will continue to exploit the same vulnerabilities in increasingly malicious ways. Although headlines have helped educate users on the devastating effects of ransomware, businesses and consumers need to follow basic cybersecurity standards to protect themselves.” 

The company is urging SMBs to up their security game to ensure they remain protected from ransomware, which is increasingly widening its target range to maximise potential profits.

Webroot advises businesses to keep their security software patched and up to date, as well as ensuring they continually back up and store sensitive data to a hard, offline location where it cannot be encrypted by ransomware.

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro, and has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and ITProPortal.