Ransomware attacks are taking a greater toll on victims’ wallets

The average ransomware payment has risen to US$1,077, up from $294 a year earlier, Symantec said

The hackers spreading ransomware are getting greedier. In 2016, the average ransom demand to free computers hit with the infection rose to US$1,077, up from $294 the year before, according to security firm Symantec.

“Attackers clearly think that there’s more to be squeezed from victims,” Symantec said in a Wednesday report.

In addition, the security firm has been detecting more ransomware infection attempts. In 2016, the figure jumped by 36 percent from the year prior.

That doesn’t bode well for the public. Ransomware is notorious for taking over computers, and essentially holding them hostage. To do so, the malicious coding encrypts all the data inside, and then demands a fee, usually in bitcoin, in exchange for releasing the machine.

In 2016, consumers made up 69 percent of all ransomware infections, with the remainder targeting enterprises, according to Symantec.

“More and more attackers are now jumping on the ransomware bandwagon and creating new ransomware families or modifying existing ones,” the security firm said.

Helping to fuel the ransomware boom is the digital black market, where hackers can sell ransomware kits as little as $10 and as much as $1,800, making it easier for other cybercriminals to join in.

Fortunately, ransomware attacks can also be easily dodged. Consumers, for instance, should be wary around email spam, which remains the popular way for hackers to spread ransomware, Symantec said.

screen shot 2017 04 26 at 1.14.21 pm Symantec

Ransomware detections by country in 2016.

Cybercriminals will often bundle their emails with attachments that can secretly download the ransomware onto a computer, if the emails are opened. “In many cases, the victim would receive a spam email designed to appear like an invoice or receipt from a company,” Symantec said.

Bad actors will also spread ransomware through exploit kits, or automated hacking toolsets, that operate on tampered websites. The kits can work by scanning a victim’s web browser for any unpatched software vulnerabilities and then exploiting them to serve ransomware.

To prevent the infections, users should keep their computer’s software up to date. That includes any publicly facing servers. In one case, hackers spread ransomware to a business by compromising a server through an unpatched vulnerability, Symantec said.

The security firm also advises users to delete any suspicious-looking emails, especially those that contain attachments or any links.

If a ransomware attack does strike, businesses can lessen the threat, if they’ve backed up their most important data. There are also free tools on the internet that can decrypt certain ransomware infections.

Symantec’s report found that 34 percent of victims do pay the ransom. However, only 47 percent reported getting their files back.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Skywatcher Dobsonian 8″ Collapsible Telescope

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Whodunnit™ Duo-Scope MFL-007 Microscope Kit

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?