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Ransomware more targeted and inflicting greater damage than ever

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Nicescene)

It’s been a productive year for hackers, claims a new report from cybersecurity firm F-Secure.

The number of “attack events” registered more than quintupled last year, compared to 2018. The attack traffic for 2019 was “unmatched by previous years” and ransomware, while decreasing in volume, became more devastating.

F-Secure has a global network of honeypots, which registered a total of 5.7 billion attacks in 2019, more than five times the figure for the previous year. In 2017, it registered a comparatively modest 792 million attacks.

According to the report, the majority of attacks targeted SMBs, suggesting hackers are “still very much” interested in using worms and other exploits that target the Eternal Blue vulnerability.

Telnet traffic and assaults against SSH were also notable, which F-Secure believes is an indicator of increased interest in IoT devices.

The total number of ransomware attacks decreased year-on-year, but became more targeted and had a greater impact. Large enterprises were most likely to suffer ransomware attacks, with criminals demanding huge sums to surrender encrypted information.

Despite the grim outlook, Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer at F-Secure, says there is reason for optimism.

“The last decade was pretty bad for information security, but the next one will be better,” says Hypponen.

“It doesn't always look like it, but we are getting better. In the middle of news on major breaches and data leaks, it might look it's getting worse, but it isn't. If you look at the level of security tools we were using in 2010 and today, it's like night and day. We are going in the right direction.”