Kaspersky: Ransomware that encrypts is booming

Android mobile ransomware is on the rise, too

Ransomware that encrypts is booming
Credit: Bet_Noire / iStock

Over the past year the number of machines hit by ransomware that encrypts all or part of the hard drive is five-and-a-half times what it was the year before, according to Kaspersky Lab.

The number in 2014-2015 was 131,111 compared to 718,536 in 2015-2016, according to the company’s report Ransomware in 2014-2016.

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Those numbers are just some of the statistics gathered by Kaspersky Security Network, which collects anonymized statistics from its customers who opt in to sharing data gathered by Kaspersky gear in their networks. They show in a number of ways that ransomware, particularly cryptor ransomware, is on the rise.

For example, there was a significant percentage increase in cryptor ransomware from 6.6% to 31.6%, the report says. Those users encountering any kind of ransomware also rose significantly between April 2015 and March 2106, from 1.97 million to 2.3 million, a bump of 17.7%.

most active ransomware Kaspersky

Most active mobile ransomware 2014-2015 (left) and 2015-2016.

At the same time, Win-Locker ransomware – the kind that ties up use of a machine by blocking the screen – dropped 13.03%, from 1,836,673 in 2014-2015 to 1,597,395 in 2015-2016, Kaspersky says.

Use of cryptors had been growing steadily but slowly until last November when it made a four-fold spike that dropped down again in February. But it’s been on a steep increase since, reaching the same levels as the earlier spike as of the end of March, Kaspersky says.

The results showed that the incidents of any kind of ransomware infection rose as a percentage of all malware attacks from 3.63% in 2014-2015 to 4.34% in 2015-2016.

Attackers behind the production of ransomware are focusing more now on mobile devices than before, the report says, given that the number of users attacked with mobile ransomware grew almost four times from 35,413 users in 2014-2015 to 136,532 users in 2015-2016. That was measured by stats gathered from Kaspersky customers using its Android protection software.

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“Mobile ransomware merged as a follow-up to PC ransomware and it is likely that it will be followed-up with malware targeting devices that are very different to a PC or a smartphone,” the report says. These include smart watches and smart TVs, and entertainment systems in homes and cars. “There are a few proof-of concepts for some of these devices, and the appearance of actual malware targeting smart devices is only a question of time.”

Two families of mobile ransomware, Fusob and Small, account for 93.5% of attacks in the latest period, according to the report.

Kaspersky says curbing malware will only happen if law enforcement catches and successfully prosecutes the attackers to deter others from entering the business.

Contributing to the ransomware boom are readily accessible ransomware kits that don’t take a lot of technical expertise to use, Kaspersky says.

This story, "Kaspersky: Ransomware that encrypts is booming" was originally published by Network World.

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