The number of business users impacted by ransomware is on the rise.
Over the past two years, the prevalence of ransomware programs has exploded, and new research from security vendor Kaspersky Lab sheds light on just how serious the problem has become, Computerworld reported on Thursday (June 23).
According to Kaspersky Lab’s analysis, between April 2015 and March 2016, upwards of 2.3 million users have experienced ransomware, making an increase of nearly 18 percent in just 12 months.
There has also been a significant rise in the use of cryptors, a specific type of ransomware program that encrypts a victim’s data in order to hold it hostage until a payment is received. Cryptors accounted for 32 percent of all ransomeware attacks that took place over the last year, a dramatic hike from 7 percent the year before.
In recent months, the rise in crypto-ransomware programs has been especially sharp, Computerworld notes, jumping from just 9 percent in October to 54 percent by April.
During the April 2015–March 2016 timeframe, corporate users made up over 13 percent of all the ransomware victims.
Earlier this year, the FBI stated that the use of ransomware has reached an all-time high. In the first three months of 2016 alone, cybercriminals have collected $209 million by extorting businesses and institutions to unlock computer servers. At that rate, ransomware will be a $1 billion a year criminal industry this year, with total losses being even higher once related business costs are factored in.
And criminals aren’t only targeting large, wealthy, multinational corporations but also local organizations, like schools and even hospitals. CNNMoney reported on a case of ransomware being used to target a school district in South Carolina. Ultimately, the Horry County School District agreed to pay $10,000 to release the information, calling it a “business decision” that got their systems back online.