Sophos (LSE: SOPH), a global leader in network and endpoint security, recently announced its SophosLabs 2018 Malware Forecast, a report that recaps ransomware and other cybersecurity trends based on data collected from Sophos customer computers worldwide during April 1 to Oct. 3, 2017. One key finding shows that while ransomware predominately attacked Windows systems in the last six months, Android, Linux and MacOS platforms were not immune. The report has also put India in the list of high risk country for ransomware circulation.
“Ransomware has become platform-agnostic. Ransomware mostly targets Windows computers, but this year, SophosLabs saw an increased amount of crypto-attacks on different devices and operating systems used by our customers worldwide,” said Dorka Palotay, SophosLabs security researcher and contributor to the ransomware analysis in the SophosLabs 2018 Malware Forecast.
The report also tracks ransomware growth patterns, indicating that WannaCry, unleashed in May 2017, was the number one ransomware intercepted from customer computers, dethroning longtime ransomware leader Cerber, which first appeared in early 2016. WannaCry accounted for 45.3 percent of all ransomware tracked through SophosLabs with Cerber accounting for 44.2 percent.
“For the first time we saw ransomware with worm-like characteristics, which contributed to the rapid expansion of WannaCry. This ransomware took advantage of aknown Windows vulnerability to infect and spread to computers, making it hard to control,” said Palotay. “Even though our customers are protected against it and WannaCry has tapered off, we still see the threat because of its inherent nature to keep scanning and attacking computers. We’re expecting cyber criminals to build upon this ability to replicate seen in WannaCry and NotPetya, and this is already evident with Bad Rabbit ransomware, which shows many similarities to NotPetya.”
The SophosLabs 2018 Malware Forecast reports on the acute rise and fall of NotPetya, ransomware that wreaked havoc in June 2017. NotPetya was initially distributed through a Ukranian accounting software package, limiting its geographic impact. It was able to spread via the EternalBlue exploit, just like WannaCry, but because WannaCry had already infected most exposed machines there were few left unpatched and vulnerable. The motive behind NotPetya is still unclear because there were many missteps, cracks and faults with this attack. For instance, the email account that victims needed to contact attackers didn’t work and victims could not decrypt and recover their data, according to Palotay.
“NotPetya spiked fast and furiously, and did hurt businesses because it permanently destroyed data on the computers it hit. Luckily, NotPetya stopped almost as fast as it started,” said Palotay. “We suspect the cyber criminals were experimenting or their goal was not ransomware, but something more destructive like a data wiper. Regardless of intention, Sophos strongly advises against paying for ransomware and recommends best practices instead, including backing up data and keeping patches up to date.”
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