Europol, the police agency of the European Union, is handing out a warning against the threat posed by ransomware.
The agency published an 80-page report discussing numerous issues, including ransomware, which Europol Executive Director Rob Wainwright said during a conference, has taken the cybercrime threat to a new level.
“Ransomware attacks have eclipsed most other global cybercrime threats, with the first half of 2017 witnessing ransomware attacks on a scale previously unseen following the emergence of self-propagating “ransomworms,” as observed in the WannaCry and Petya/NotPetya cases. Moreover, while information-stealing malware such as banking Trojans remain a key threat, they often have a limited target profile,” the report reads.
Ransomware, however, they note, has widened the range of potential malware victims, impacting everyone indiscriminately, whether we’re talking about industries or the public sector. The issues, they say, highlighted how connectivity and poor digital hygiene and security practices can allow the spread of such attacks.
While just a few years ago the main threat against computer users were DDoS attacks and data breaches, now we’ve moved on to this type of malware and the trend seems to be the same for the next few years simply because it’s extremely efficient.
The ever-expanding ransomware
The past year has seen not only a growth in the number of ransomware families spreading into the wild, both on PCs and smartphones, but also the creation of more sophisticated threats, like WannaCry and NotPetya which combined the encryption capabilities of ransomware with the spreading capabilities of regular worms.
Europol is setting up a special unit to fight dark market operations, which is another problematic area of the Internet, where illegal exchanges are made every day, from drugs, to credit card information, to guns, human trafficking and more.
In order to protect yourself from malware, you have to make sure you don’t download email attachments or software from unsecured locations, as well as to make sure to always have your operating system updated to the latest versions, and a security solution installed, whether we’re talking about a firewall or antivirus software, which are able to detect and block threats.