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Over 26 Percent of Ransomware Attacks in 2017 Hit Business Users

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The proportion of ransomware attacks hitting business users rose from 22.6 percent in 2016 to 26.2 percent in 2017, according to a recent Kaspersky Lab report.

"Welcome to ransomware in 2017 -- the year global enterprises and industrial systems were added to the ever-growing list of victims, and targeted attackers started taking a serious interest in the threat," the report states. "It was also a year of consistently high attack numbers, but limited innovation."

The number of new ransomware families dropped almost by half, from 62 in 2016 to 38 in 2017. At the same time, the number of modifications almost doubled, from 54,000 in 2016 to more than 96,000 in 2017.

Sixty-five percent of businesses hit by ransomware in 2017 lost access to a significant amount or all of their data, while 36 percent paid the ransom, 17 percent of them never recovered their data.

Three massive ransomware outbreaks -- WannaCry in May, NotPetya in June and Bad Rabbit in October -- greatly increased awareness of the threat.

"The headline attacks of 2017 are an extreme example of the growing criminal interest in corporate targets," Kaspersky Lab senior malware analyst Fedor Sinitsyn said in a statement. "We spotted this trend in 2016, it has accelerated throughout 2017 and shows no signs of slowing down."

"Business victims are remarkably vulnerable, can be charged a higher ransom that individuals and are often willing to pay up in order to keep the business operating," Sinitsyn added. "New business-focused infection vectors, such as through remote desktop systems, are not surprisingly also on the rise."

A Surge in Attacks

According to a separate Malwarebytes report, the number of ransomware attacks in the first three quarters of 2017 exceeded the total number in 2016 by 62 percent.

Ransomware detections surged from less than 16,000 in September 2015 to hundreds of thousands in September 2017, an increase of almost 2,000 percent in two years. In 2017 alone, ransomware detections increased by more than 300 percent from 90,351 in January 2017 to 333,871 in October.

The report suggests that ransomware has largely replaced the use of botnets, which decreased by almost 50 percent in the first three quarters of 2017.

"Knowledge of cybercrime and security best practices has to go across the organization, driven from the top down," the report states. "With an endless array of potential vulnerability points, from reception to external vendors, an exchange of knowledge, awareness and insight is key to recognizing threats."

"This idea of a CEO as a cyber security champion evokes an even bigger shift which can ultimately help businesses better protect themselves: treating cyber security as an investment in trust, rather than a way to prevent losses or costs."

A separate Fortinet report found that 22 percent of companies detected ransomware in the third quarter of 2017 alone.

Whether you're a security professional protecting an entire network or anyone else who cares about your security on the web, please see our guide on how to stop ransomware.

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