Not too long ago ransomware was “dethroned” as the number one cyber threat. However, new statistics reveal that the encryption menace has returned in an increasing number of attacks. The overall volume of malware has grown as well, shows a new cyber threat report by SonicWall.
What Are the Numbers Revealing for Ransomware in 2018?
Apparently, the upsurge in malware infections from last year is continuing throughout 2018. SonicWall Capture Labs researchers recorded a total of 5.99 billion malware attacks in the first two quarters of 2018. In comparison, the number of attacks in 2017 for the same period was 2.97 billion. On a monthly basis this year, malware volume remained consistent in the first quarter but then it dropped to less than 1 billion per month in the second quarter, the researchers reported. Nonetheless, these numbers are still bigger than the numbers registered in 2017.
Ransomware Is Back
In a report dedicated to the first quarter of 2018, Comodo researchers said that cryptominers were the most prevailing infection, with Monero in the spotlight of malicious crypto mining. The biggest increase in these infections started in 2017 shortly after Bitcoin’s price skyrocketed to $20,000. The infection tendency continued with the beginning of 2018 when the market cap of cryptocurrencies reached $264 billion. This is the milestone that shifted the attention of cybercriminals from ransomware to cryptomining.
Now, SonicWall researchers show that ransomware attacks were surging in the first six months of 2018, with 181.5 million ransomware attacks up to now. This marks a 229 percent increase for the same period in 2017.
In addition, the deployment of encryption continues to grow in similar manner both for legitimate traffic and malicious attack campaigns. In 2017, the company reported that 68 percent of sessions were encrypted by SSL/TLS standards. Over the first half of 2018, approximately 70 percent of sessions are leveraging encryption. What this means is that cybercriminals have the agenda to follow this trend in their attempts to prevent their malicious payloads from being detected by security teams.
According to SonicWall CEO Bill Conner, “encrypted attacks are a critical challenge in the industry”. “Far too few organizations are aware that cybercriminals are using encryption to circumvent traditional networks security controls, and others aren’t activating new mitigation techniques, such Deep Packet Inspection of SSL and TLS traffic (DPI-SSL). We predict encrypted attacks to increase in scale and sophistication until they become the standard for malware delivery. And we’re not that far off.”