Ransomware up 50% in a year, warns Verizon security report

27 April 2017 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Organised criminal groups have increased their use of ransomware to extort money by 50% compared with a year ago, according to Verizon.

In the company’s annual survey of data breaches, the carrier says that ransomware has increased in prevalence from the 22nd most common variety of malware only three years ago.

“Some industries are under greater threat than others; for example, ransomware accounted for 72% of all malware incidents in the healthcare sector,” says the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), which analyses over 79,000 security incidents and 1,945 confirmed data breaches, across 79 countries.

George Fischer, president of Verizon Enterprise Solutions, said: “Our data is giving governments and organisations the information they need to anticipate cyberattacks and more effectively mitigate cyber-risk. By analysing data from our own security team and that of other leading security practitioners from around the world, we’re able to offer valuable intelligence that can be used to transform an organization’s risk profile.”

Verizon gathered information from 67 other contributors for its survey, which reports on the situation in 2016. Among them were the US Secret Service and UK law firm Mishcon de Reya.

“Insights provided in the DBIR are levelling the cybersecurity playing field,” said Fischer.

Verizon also reported 289 confirmed breaches related to espionage in the 2017 DBIR. Over 90% were attributed to state-affiliated groups. Nation-states, competitors and former employees were also behind these attacks, but not nearly as common, with phishing by far the most prevalent tactic used to target victims, said the report.