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UK Ransomware Attacks Soar 195% – Malware Cocktails Proliferate

"A shift to malware cocktails and evolving threat vectors"

By CBR Staff Writer

Ransomware attacks soared 195 percent in the UK in the first half of 2019, according to the mid-year threat report from California-based cybersecurity firm SonicWall.

The report is based on data from over one million endpoints in 200 countries, the company said. Among its key findings in first six months of 2019:

  • Ransomware volume was up 15% globally year to date
  • Encrypted threats spiked 76%
  • IoT malware attacks were up 55%
  • Malware attacks across non-standard ports dipped 13%
  • With bitcoin value spiking, cryptojacking volumes were up 9%

See also: This Critical Oracle Vulnerability is Being Exploited in the Wild

“Organizations continue to struggle to track the evolving patterns of cyberattacks — the shift to malware cocktails and evolving threat vectors — which makes it extremely difficult for them to defend themselves,” said SonicWall president and CEO Bill Conner.

He added: “In the first half of 2019, SonicWall Real-Time Deep Memory Inspection (RTDMI) technology unveiled 74,360 ‘never-before-seen’ malware variants,” he noted.

High-Profile Ransomware Attacks this Year

The findings come after a flurry of high-profile European ransomware attacks this year.

Notable examples include an attack on Eurofins Scientific –which provides forensic and scientific services to a range of UK law enforcement agencies. The attack crippled police forensic services for a sustained period, delaying court hearings and investigations. The company was later reported to have paid a ransom to unlock its files.

One of the world’s largest Aluminium producers, Norsk Hydro, was also hit in March, forcing the halt of production and reversion on some lines to manual processes. The attack has cost the Norwegian company $75 million in lost earnings to-date.

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UK Ransomware Attacks Surge: Accessible RaaS to Blame?

While global malware volume is down 20 percent, SonicWall Capture Labs threat researchers found a 15 percent increase in ransomware attacks globally and a 195 percent surge in ransomware within the United Kingdom.

SonicWall threat researchers attributed the overall rise to the availability of open-source malware kits. Increasing familiarity among script kiddies with the range of cryptocoins cybercriminals prefer to be paid in may also be a factor. (Computer Business Review has requested further details on the UK-specific surge.)

Attacks Against Non-Standard Ports Still A Concern

Cybercriminals have their sights set on non-standard ports for web traffic as a manner to deliver their payloads undetected, SonicWall said. “Based on a sample size of more than 210 million malware attacks recorded through June 2019, Capture Labs monitored the largest spike on record since tracking the vector when one quarter of malware attacks came across non-standard ports in May 2019 alone.”

Ezat Dayeh, SE Manager UK and Ireland, Cohesity said in an emailed comment: “Backups are the only sure shot way to provide protection from catastrophic consequences and must have the highest standards of data protection assigned.

“Organisations should opt for backup systems that look for daily change rates on logical data, stored data and historical data, immediately flagging dangers before they turn into a full-blown attack. Every C-suite should be challenging IT Management about the company’s backup strategy. If your organisation cannot restore a healthy backup and overcome the issue in under a few hours, ideally a few minutes, you’ve got a real problem. But with an integrated approach to backups, enabled by an immutable file system, businesses can… face even the most formidable of attacks.”


See also: 5 Things to do Before Ransomware Strikes


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