Ransomware attacks vs small local firms drop 48.93% in the first half

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By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

RANSOMWARE attacks against Philippine small and medium businesses dropped 48.93% to 9,701 in the first six months of the year, from 18,997 attempts detected in the same period last year, Internet security firm Kaspersky said.

Kaspersky said there are two main reasons for the decrease in ransomware attacks this year. “One is the decline of one of the biggest ransomware groups that hit organizations worldwide in 2017 and two, because of upgrades in software systems that reduced the vulnerability of computer systems,” it said in an e-mailed statement on Monday.

It also noted that the Microsoft Windows operating system has been the target of ransomware attacks.

Kaspersky defines ransomware as a malicious software that infects computers and displays messages demanding fees to be paid for the computer system to properly work again.

Ransomware attacks in Southeast Asia have actually declined to 1 million in the first half of the year from last year’s 1.4 million.

“Singapore has logged the highest reduction of ransomware detections at 89.79%, followed by Malaysia at 87.65%, and Indonesia at 68.17%,” the Internet security firm noted.

Fedor Sinitsyn, senior malware analyst at Kaspersky, said: “The main factor that contributed to this decrease is the gradual decline of the WannaCry ransomware, which was one of the top verdicts in our statistics. Most probably, with systems getting patched, this uncontrolled worm gets less targets over time.”

But Yeo Siang Tiong, Kaspersky’s general manager for Southeast Asia, said small and medium enterprises should remain vigilant.

“Our industry has been unfaltering in our advanced research and resolute reporting of sophisticated attacks, and we see its important contribution in the weakening of some ransomware campaigns. But we can never be complacent. Prolific attacks may always fly under our radar and we need to continue to watch out for them,” he said.

“The spray and pray tactic of ransomware creators may be over, but we are also observing the rise of the more dangerous targeted ransomware. [T]he recent headline-grabbing incidents involving Maze ransomware and the recent WastedLocker attack, which allegedly earned $10 million in one infection should be a clear reminder for all companies, however small, that we need to beef up our cybersecurity now more than ever against this costly threat,” Mr. Yeo added.