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Ransomware Infections on Course to Top 2016 Figures

The volume of ransomware attacks this year looks set to outstrip even 2016 figures, with organizations increasingly bearing the brunt of infections, according to new figures from Symantec.

The security giant claimed that it has seen 319,000 infections already during the first half of the year.

If attacks continue at the same rate, it will be a significant increase on the 470,000 infections the company blocked during the whole of last year.

The WannaCry and ‘Petya’ campaigns of May and June respectively have done much to drive up infection rates and could be a worrying sign of things to come, especially for organizations, according to Symantec’s Dick O’Brien.

“The impact of WannaCry and Petya makes it quite likely that more attackers will attempt to replicate the tactics used by deploying ransomware as a worm. The propagation mechanisms employed by both ransomware families enabled the threats to spread quickly across an entire computer network. Many consumer computers are not connected to a network, unlike those found in organizations,” he explained.

“While WannaCry and Petya also did have the ability to spread across the internet to other vulnerable computers, this means of transmission again largely affected other organizations. Most home internet routers would have blocked infection attempts involving the EternalBlue exploit.”

This is partly why ransomware infections of organizations have spiked in recent months. In 2015 and 2016 businesses accounted for around 29% to 30% of infections, versus 42% in the first half of 2017, according to Symantec.

On the plus side, although ransomware demands more than tripled during 2016, from an average of $294 to $1077, this year has seen them level out at $544; although this is per machine so costs could soon add up for businesses.

Symantec recommended businesses keep systems up-to-date and patched at all times, delete suspicious looking emails, protect systems with multi-layered defense and back-up key data.

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