We have known about the rising threat of ransomware for some time and new figures released by Intel Security's McAfee Labs has revealed the true extent of the problem.
The total number of ransomware samples detected now sits at 7.3 million, an astonishing rise of 3,000 per cent since the first records in 2012 and 127 per cent in the past year alone.
As the table below shows, the total number of ransomware stood at 230,549 in Q1 2012, rising to 660,343 in Q1 2013, 1,795,615 in Q1 2014 and 2,769,825 in Q1 2015.
This rapid ransomware growth is partly due to the extremely lucrative nature of such attacks. For example, a ransomware distributor identified by Intel Security researchers appeared to receive $121 million worth of bitcoin payments (BTC 189,813) from launching attacks in a variety of sectors.
Raj Samani, CTO for EMEA at Intel Security commented: “Day-to-day ransomware attacks on computer devices are fast becoming the norm – and attackers are starting to target sectors such as healthcare, which have historically suffered fewer data breaches and as such have tended to focus less on security.
“The next phase of ransomware will see this form of attack creeping into our everyday devices. Ransomware in connected cars and smart devices has been proven in concept and it’s only a matter of time before we see instances of people left helpless, unable to drive their cars or use their home appliances unless they pay up a ransom. This is the shape of the future – devices we wouldn’t normally perceive as computers being held to ransom by cyber criminals for financial gain.
“In order to undermine the growing sophistication of ransomware, we need to stay one step ahead – moving security measures beyond traditional devices, to ensure consumers and businesses are protected across every network and have the tools in place to correct systems if an attack is detected.”
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