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Report: Ransomware attacks up by almost 2,000 per cent as ‘New Mafia’ hits the digital streets in 2017

December 2017 by Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes unveils a report on the new age of organised cybercrime, with attacks on businesses in 2017 growing in frequency, sophistication and malice. The New Mafia: Gangs and Vigilantes – A Guide to Cybercrime for CEOs demystifies cybersecurity by drawing parallels between today’s criminals and the Mafia gangs of the 1930s. This new generation of cybercriminals increasingly resembles traditional Mafia organisations, not just in their professional coordination, but also in their willingness to intimidate and paralyse victims.

Headline findings

Malwarebytes’ analysis shows that, in spite of acknowledging the severe reputational and financial risks of cybercrime, many business leaders greatly underestimate their vulnerability to such attacks.

The report calls for businesses and consumers to fight back by acting as ‘vigilantes’ through greater collective awareness, knowledge sharing and proactive defenses. This includes a shift from shaming businesses who have been hacked and instead engaging with them – working together to fix the problem. Proprietary Malwarebytes data demonstrates the urgent need for such a shift by highlighting the capacity of these fast-maturing gangs to inflict greater damage on businesses:
- The new cyber Mafia is accelerating the volume of attacks. The average monthly volume of attacks in 2017 is up 23 per cent versus 2016.
- Ransomware attacks detected by Malwarebytes have exploded. Ransomware attacks in 2017 to October have surpassed total figures for 2016 by 62 per cent. In addition, detections are up 1,989 per cent since 2015 – rising to hundreds of thousands of detections in September 2017 from fewer than 16,000 in September 2015.
- Ransomware continues to grow in 2017. Detections rose from 90,351 in January to 333,871 in October. Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes says: “The ‘New Mafia’, identified by our report, is characterised by the emergence of four distinct groups of cybercriminals: traditional gangs, state-sponsored attackers, ideological hackers and hackers-for-hire.

“Through greater vigilance and a comprehensive understanding of the cybercrime landscape, businesses can support the efforts of legislators and law enforcement, while also taking matters into their own hands.”

Creating confidence

Malwarebytes argues that the growth of cybercrime and a lack of clarity over how best to police it is damaging victim confidence, with those affected by cybercrime often too embarrassed to speak out. This is true for consumers and businesses alike and can have dangerous ramifications as firms bury their heads in the sand instead of working to reduce future incidents.
The report suggests that the answer lies in engaging and educating the C-suite so that CEOs are as likely as IT departments to both recognise the signs of an attack and able to respond appropriately.

Kleczynski continues: “The most damaging cyberattacks to businesses are the ones that go undetected for long stretches of time. In spite of high-profile occurrences over the last year, this report shows that many business executives may still have some knowledge gaps to fill. “CEOs will soon have little choice but to elevate cybercrime from a technology issue to a business-critical consideration.”

The future of cybercrime

The report concludes by looking at the future of cybercrime and argues that the IoT will enable crime to come full circle. So that rather than a downtown shooting, executions can be enacted digitally – for instance by hacking an internet-enabled pacemaker. Malwarebytes believes that if we can imagine a pacemaker being hacked or an autonomous getaway car used in a robbery, we should be able to legislate against it.
The complete The New Mafia: Gangs and Vigilantes – A Guide to Cybercrime for CEOs guide features original data and insight taken from a global panel of experts from a variety of disciplines including PwC, Leeds University, University of Sussex, the Centre for Cyber Victim Counselling in India and the University of North Carolina.

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