While overall malware volume declined for the third consecutive quarter, ransomware attacks globally surged 40 per cent to reach 199.7 million hits in the third quarter of this year, according to a report from cybersecurity firm SonicWall.
While sensors in India, the UK and Germany recorded decreases, the US saw a staggering 145.2 million ransomware hits in Q3 — a 139 per cent year-over-year increase, said the report.
Notably, SonicWall researchers observed a significant increase in Ryuk ransomware detections in 2020.
Through Q3 2019, just 5,123 Ryuk attacks were detected by the company.
Through the third quarter this year, it detected 67.3 million Ryuk attacks — a third (33.7 per cent) of all ransomware attacks this year.
“What’s interesting is that Ryuk is a relatively young ransomware family that was discovered in August 2018 and has made significant gains in popularity in 2020,” Dmitriy Ayrapetov, SonicWall Vice President, Platform Architecture, said in a statement.
“The increase of remote and mobile workforces appears to have increased its prevalence, resulting not only in financial losses, but also impacting healthcare services with attacks on hospitals.”
In the recent strings of attacks on various hospital networks in the US that grabbed global headlines, malware in question belongs to the Ryuk malware family.
“Ryuk is especially dangerous because it is targeted, manual and often leveraged via a multi-stage attack preceded by Emotet and TrickBot malware. Therefore, if an organization has Ryuk, it’s a pretty good indication that its infested with several types of malware,” Ayrapetov said.
However, the research showed that overall global malware volume continued steady decline this year.
In a year-over-year comparison through the third quarter, the researchers recorded 4.4 billion malware attacks — a 39 per cent drop worldwide.
Regional comparisons show India (minus 68 per cent) and Germany (minus 64 per cent) has once again seen a considerable drop-rate percentage, as well as the US (minus 33 per cent) and the UK (minus 44 per cent).
Lower numbers of malware do not mean it is going away entirely. Rather, this is part of a cyclical downturn that can very easily right itself in a short amount of time, said the report based on threat intelligence collected by the company’s more than 1 million global security sensors in nearly 215 countries and territories.
SonicWall Capture Labs found a 30 per cent increase in IoT (Internet of Things) malware attacks, a total of 32.4 million worldwide.
Most IoT devices — including voice-activated smart devices, door chimes, TV cameras and appliances — were not designed with security as a top priority, making them susceptible to attack and supplying perpetrators with numerous entry points.