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Ransomware attacks up 20% in first half of 2020 report

SonicWall’s Mid-Year Cyber Threat Report finds ransomware on the rise, and Coronavirus-related scams up by 7%.

Ransomware continues to be the most concerning threat to enterprise organisations and the ‘preferred tool’ for cyber criminals, increasing a staggering 20% (121.4m) globally in the first half of 2020. According to the latest edition of SonicWall’s 2020 Mid-Year Threat Report, comparatively, the US and UK are facing different odds. SonicWall Capture Labs threat researchers logged 79.9m ransomware attacks (+109%) in the US and 5.9m ransomware attacks (-6%) in the UK – trends that continue to ‘ebb and flow based on the behaviours of agile cyber-criminal networks’, the report says.

The combination of the Coronavirus pandemic and social-engineered cyber attacks has proven to be an effective mix for cyber criminals who utilise phishing and other email scams, the report found. Dating as far back as February 4th this year, SonicWall researchers detected a ‘flurry of increased attacks, scams and exploits’ specifically based around Coronavirus/COVID-19, and saw a 7% increase in COVID-19-related phishing attempts during Q1/Q2 2020. COVID-19 phishing began rising in March, and saw its most significant peaks on March 24th, April 3rd and June 19th, the report records. This contrasts with phishing as a whole, the report says, which started strong in January, and was down slightly globally (-15%) by the time the pandemic phishing attempts began to escalate.

“Cyber criminals are resourceful, and the Threat Report’s latest data shows that cyber criminals continue to morph their tactics to sway the odds in their favour during uncertain times,” says Bill Conner, President & CEO at SonicWall. “With many of us more remote and mobile than ever before, businesses are highly exposed and cyber criminals are very aware of that. It’s imperative that organisations move away from makeshift or traditional security strategies, and realise that this new ‘business normal’ is no longer new.”

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