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WannaCry is still a major ransomware threat

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Martial Red)

Despite some security analysts saying the is dead, ransomware continues being one of the most popular and most devastating types of malware out there. 

A new report by claims that almost a quarter (23.56 per cent) of all encryption ransomware attacks last year were attributed to WannaCry, making it “the most ordinary type of hack” in 2019.

WannaCry made headlines when it attacked the NHS back in 2018 wreaking havoc on the healthcare institution’s network.

PreciseSecurity claims WannaCry infected some 230,000 machines all over the world, bringing estimated losses up to $4 billion. The company says WannaCry is mostly successful for two reasons – first being lazy users not updating their operating system on time, and the second one being gullible users clicking on links in emails. Last year, more than two thirds of managed service providers said ransomware was caused by spam and phishing emails. says spam messages made more than half (55 per cent) of global email traffic during 2019. Other notable mentions are weak passwords, poor user practices, malicious websites and clickbait.

Ransomware is a type of malware in which the infected machine has all of its data encrypted. The hackers demand ransom in cryptocurrency (mostly Bitcoin) in exchange for the decryption key. 

When it first became popular, cybersecurity experts warned organisations not to pay the ransom as there were no guarantees they'd ever get the decryption key. Instead, they suggested businesses keep updated backups of important files and educate their employees about the dangers of phishing and impersonation.

However, the trend has shifted and in some instances it would be wiser to pay the ransom instead, law enforcement says. Businesses should still carefully consider their moves.