Over half (54%) of all malware targeting UK users in 2015 contained some form of ransomware, according to worrying statistics from Bitdefender.
The security vendor analyzed data from the year only to find the global ransomware epidemic particularly virulent in Blighty.
Nearly one in 10 (9.1%) of all ransomware infected emails worldwide were apparently headed for UK users before Bitdefender intercepted them.
This meant the UK came in second only to the US (21%) in the global ransomware stakes—presumably because of its high internet penetration and relatively high GDP.
In the States, the proportion of malware files classed as ransomware was even higher than in the UK, at 62%.
The majority were apparently accounted for by the prolific CryptoWall and CryptoLocker. The former famously managed to extort over $1m from victims in just six months.
“These numbers show that ransomware masterminds have made countries such as the UK and US priority targets to attack, most likely because they consider both to be highly profitable markets,” said Bitdefender chief security strategist, Catalin Cosoi.
“In 2015, the creators of the notorious CryptoWall ransomware have managed to extort more than $325 million from US victims. We also have to consider the use of sophisticated encryption algorithms that often leave victims no choice but to pay the ransom.
Cosoi claimed that in some cases even the FBI has urged companies to pay the ransom, although the Feds still publicly advise organisations to take preventative measures such as ensuring systems are fully patched and up-to-date and users don’t open unsolicited emails.
The bad news is things are going to get even worse for firms in 2016, according to Bitdefender.
Ransomware will increasingly spread to new platforms such as Linux, potentially exploiting vulnerabilities to encrypt even more files deeper in victims’ machines, the firm claimed.
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