2016 Intel Security Threat Report Casts Light on Extent of the Ransomware Problem

The 2016 Intel Security Threat Report reveals that ransomware attacks have increased by 3000% since records first started being kept in 2012.

The number of new ransomware samples discovered by McAfee Labs has increased by a staggering 127% in the past year alone. That takes the total number of ransomware samples captured to 7.3 million, and 1.3 million new samples this year.

The figures in the 2016 Intel Security Threat report show why ransomware is proving to be so popular with cybercriminals. In the first half of 2016 alone, one ransomware author managed to net an incredible 121 million in Bitcoin payments (189,813 BTC). The attacks from the campaign targeted a wide range of industry sectors and resulted in $93 million in profits once expenses were deducted. The researchers have concluded that the total profits from ransomware are likely to be in the hundreds of millions in 2016 alone.

No industry is immune to ransomware attacks. Many campaigns are conducted randomly, although in the past year the healthcare industry has been targeted. According to the report, payments of more than $100,000 have been made by healthcare providers in the past year.

So why is the healthcare industry being targeted? There are a number of reasons according to the researchers. Hospitals need access to data in order to treat patients effectively. If those data are encrypted and access prevented, hospitals are likely to pay the ransom.

Further, the 2016 Intel Security Threat Report suggests the healthcare industry has not invested as heavily in cybersecurity protections as other industries such as Technology and Finance. Many healthcare organizations still rely on legacy systems and medical devices that have weak security. Healthcare organizations are therefore easier to attack.

Ransomware may be increasingly popular, but that is not the only form or malware that has increased significantly in the last year. The 2016 Intel Security Threat Report also shows that mobile malware is growing. Almost 2 million new mobile malware samples were recorded in the past year; an increase of 151% year on year.

Data loss incidents are also up. A median of 31 to 50 data loss incidents per day were suffered by companies employing more than 5,000 employees and a median of 11-20 data loss incidents per day were experienced by companies employing between 1,000 and 3,000 employees. The healthcare industry experiences a median of 19 data loss incidents per day.

Author: Richard Anderson

Richard Anderson is the Editor-in-Chief of NetSec.news