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Ransomware sees huge rise in 2019

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Nicescene)

Cybersecurity experts from Bitdefender have spotted a significant rise in ransomware this year, compared to 2018. In its Mid-Year Threat Landscape Report, the company claims that it registered a 74.23 per cent increase in ransomware in the past 12 months.

Looking at specific months, the number of ransomware reports increased by 64.66 per cent in May 2019, compared to January 2019. The report says this is “an ascending trend that started in April and is likely to continue through the end of 2019.”

GandCrab, one of the world’s most popular (and also retired) ransomware, is no longer the main threat on the internet. However, eliminating the big fish didn’t reduce the overall threat, it just made it more complex. After the retirement of Gandcrab, multiple new variants have filled its place. Ransomware like Sodinokibi have “quickly gained popularity” after a few successful campaigns.

This ransomware, also known as REvil or Sodin, focused on specific industry verticals, targeted large organisations, educational institutions and critical infrastructure. It mostly aimed for targets in the United States. The previous practice of spray-and-pray attacks have been replaced by more surgical attacks, and they seem to be bringing great results for the criminals.

“This fragmentation can only mean the ransomware market will become more powerful and more resilient against combined efforts by law enforcement and the cybersecurity industry to dismantle it,” the report states.

Ransomware is a type of malware which encrypts all the data on a machine or a network and demands payment in cryptocurrency in exchange for the decryption key. Even though law enforcement agencies at first advised victims not to pay the ransom, as there were no guarantees that they would get the decryption key in return, they have now changed their opinion and say that, in some cases, it may be wiser to pay up.