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Attacks on Businesses Soar 235% in Q1

A surge in ransomware and trojans in the first three months of the year led to a massive 235% year-on-year increase in detected cyber-threats to businesses in Q1 2019, according to Malwarebytes.

The security vendor’s Cybercrime tactics and techniques report for the first quarter revealed a definite shift from consumers to businesses, which is apparently hitting SMBs with fewer IT resources particularly hard.

The more business-focused aims of hackers in 2019 were particularly noticeable in the ransomware category. Here, consumer detections decreased 10% from the previous quarter and 33% year-on-year, whereas attacks against corporate targets surged 195% from the previous quarter and over 500% from the same time last year.

In a similar way, consumer detections of cryptomining malware have now dropped to almost nothing, thanks in part to the decision by Coinhive to shut down its operations. However, attacks against businesses continue to rise, especially in APAC, the report revealed.

Malwarebytes claimed these increases could be due to the Troldesh strain, which was prolific in attacks against US organizations early on in the quarter.

Elsewhere, detections of trojans like Emotet on business endpoints increased by over 200% from the previous quarter and nearly 650% year-on-year.

Malware against Macs also spiked at the start of the year. Malwarebytes noted a 60% increase from Q4 2018 to Q1 2019, while adware increased by over 200% from the previous quarter.

On the plus side, there was a significant decline from the previous quarter in detections of backdoor (-80%) and hijacker (-73%) malware. The former can be accounted for by a decline in activity from the Backdoor.Bot campaign in APAC, the report claimed.

“Consumers might breathe a sigh of relief seeing that malware targeting them has dropped by nearly 40%, but that would be short-sighted,” said Adam Kujawa, director of Malwarebytes Labs.

“Consumer data is more easily available in bulk from business targets … Cyber-criminals are using increasingly clever means of attack to get even more value from targets through the use of sophisticated trojans, adware and ransomware.”

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