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Feeling Locky, punk? Ransomware grew eight-fold last year

Days of future past

Ransomware saw a more than eight-fold (752 per cent) increase as a mode of attack in 2016, according to Trend Micro.

The infosec firm estimates file-scrambling malware families such as Locky and Goldeneye raked in $1 billion in 2016.

2016 was the year when ransomware ruled, and this danger has been maintained by recent WannaCrypt attacks and the latest threat Eternal Rocks, which has no kill switch and continues to grow.

Trend Micro's report, Ransomware: Past, Present and Future (pdf), provides a useful overview of the history and evolution of ransomware, from its beginnings in Russia in 2005/6 to the growth of the ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) business model.

RaaS means that unskilled crooks can hire code and rent the command and control infrastructure they need to run ransomware attacks.

Crooks behind ransomware attacks in general are targeting organisations rather than individual consumers, with the encryption of business-critical files like databases in order to inflict the maximum damage and exert the maximum leverage in securing payouts.

Trend Micro's report concludes with a list of top tips in defending against ransomware attacks. It's mostly standard stuff about the need for patching and users education against the threat of phishing. However it's backup advice is a slight variant on the usual. Regular back-ups of key data: three copies, two formats, and one air-gapped from the network should be taken, security researchers at Trend Micro advises. ®


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