Technology

Ransomware increased by 750 per cent in 2016, figures show

The number of new ransomware families increased by 752 per cent in 2016, resulting in a $1 billion (£815 million) loss for businesses, according to a new report.

Trend Micro’s latest analysis of cyber security trends showed that threats reached an all-time high last year, with business email compromise (BEC) scams another key area of growth.

The number of ransomware families grew from 29 to 247 over the course of the year, it found, while BEC scams cost companies an average of $140,000 (£114,000) in losses.

Along with the Zero Day Initiative (ZDI), the firm discovered 765 vulnerabilities in 2016, 678 of which were brought to ZDI through its bug bounty programme.

There was a 145 per cent increase in Apple vulnerabilities, while Microsoft bugs decreased by 47 per cent. The use of new vulnerabilities in exploit kits dropped by 71 per cent, which the researchers partially attributed to the arrest of 50 cyber criminals behind Angler.

“As threats have diversified and grown in sophistication, cyber criminals have moved on from primarily targeting individuals to focusing on where the money is: enterprises,” said Ed Cabrera, chief cyber security officer at Trend Micro.

“Throughout 2016 we witnessed threat actors extort companies and organisations for the sake of profitability and we don’t anticipate this trend slowing down. This research aims to educate enterprises on the threat tactics actively being used to compromise their data, and help companies adopt strategies to stay one step ahead and protect against potential attacks.”

Other key highlights from 2016 included the huge Internet of Things-powered distributed denial of service attack on Dyn, which disrupted some of the internet’s biggest websites.

The report’s authors also picked out Yahoo’s 2013 data breach, which compromised a billion users’ information and came to light at the end of the year.

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