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April 11, 2017

Some Good and Bad News About Cybercrime

SonicWall has released its 2017 Annual Threat Report, and it contains both good and bad news for businesses.

Let’s start off with some good news:  

This may be hard to believe based on some of the headlines you’ve been seeing over the last several months, but the total number of malware attacks actually dropped last year to 7.9 billion (down from 8.2 billion in 2015). And unique malware samples fell to just 60 million (down from 64 million in 2015, which is a decrease of 6.2 percent).

What’s more, point-of-sale malware attacks — like the kind that hit Target back in December, 2013 — decreased by a whopping 93 percent from 2014 to 2016. And the number of new PoS malware variants decreased by as much as 88 percent.

This drop-off is due to a few different factors like the proliferation of chip-based PoS systems and the enforcement of PCI DSS standards. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) encrypted traffic also grew by 38 percent, which shows that businesses are starting to understand the need for secure communciations. 

Now, here’s the bad news…

While malware attacks declined last year, ransomware attacks continued to soar. In fact, 2016 was a record-setting year for ransomware as there were 638 million attacks.

Ransomware — which locks digital files and user machines and holds them until a payment is made — hit just about every industry. Mechanical and industrial engineering firms received the bulk of ransomware attacks while pharmaceutical companies, financial services organizations, real estate companies and healthcare providers were targeted the most. 

Last year, we also saw ransomware spread to app stores which is terrifying for businesses with bring your own device (BYOD) programs. In fact, during one two-week span there were as many as 4,000 distinct applications found with self-installing payloads.

So malware may be changing, but it’s certainly not going away any time soon. Right now, ransomware is one of the cheapest and easiest cyberweapons for hackers to obtain and it will continue be until the market shifts again and a new type of malevolent software is discovered. Ransomware, it should be noted, is already changing. It’s becoming faster and more destructive. We’re even seeing fake ransomware appear online.

The only way to stay safe online today is to be aware of the threat landscape and engage in proactive network maintenance — a job that is easier said than done for small to medium-sized IT departments.

Apex Technology Services is a managed services provider (MSP) offering cybersecurity and network support for businesses in greater New York City and beyond. Apex can work with your business to educate employees about online threats, and to provide critical cybersecurity monitoring.

To learn more about Apex, click here.

For further reading about ransomware, check out some of our other articles:

A new breed of hacktrepeneurs has awoken and they have little to fear and everything to gain by infecting as many companies as possible and extorting money from them. Apex Technology Services stands ready to protect your company regardless of whether it’s located in New York CityWhite Plains, New York; Connecticut; Australia; Europe; or anywhere else. Our full suite of cybersecurity and IT support services is at your disposal, enabling you to spend less time worrying about and more time growing your business.

To ensure your security, consider one of our most popular services — Auditing & Documentationwhich pinpoints vulnerabilities in your infrastructure, process flow and internal security procedures.

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