Ransomware is a “Rather Small” Phenomenon, AV-TEST Security Report Says

There have been numerous ransomware attacks over the past few years. The criminals are making life even harder for victims and security researchers alike. Yet there are still some groups who feel ransomware is just a fad and how this threat will go away. The latest AV-TEST Security report feels ransomware is a marginal phenomenon, making it sound like these threats are negligible.

Is Ransomware Really a Fad?

Ransomware has been around for some time and continues to make media headlines regularly. The AV-TEST Security Report claims only 0.94% of all malware deployed between 2016 and 2017 were blackmail Trojans. This seems to counter any arguments of how 2016 was the year of ransomware, despite the attention this type of malware generated.

This 0.94% only represents attacks made against Windows users throughout the year. As we have seen over the past 12-18 months, new ransomware variants are showing up on Android, Mac OS, and Linux. None of those new variants have made any significant impact to date, but it shows ransomware will not go away anytime soon either.

Despite what this report may claim, we should all be taking this ransomware threat very seriously. First of all, it seems intent on giving Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies a bad reputation. Associating Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with cyber-criminals attracts the wrong kind of attention from regulators and legislators all over the world. Ransomware does introduce more people to Bitcoin, but in the worst light possible.

Additionally, people can suffer from other types of malware -such as banking Trojans- for years without knowing. Ransomware is a lot bolder and it makes makes what has happened to the victim’s computer or mobile device obvious. The developers simply tell people to pay up or risk losing their files. This results in victims knowing all too well what is at stake at any given moment. This is a stark contrast to banking Trojans, which can reside on devices for years and slowly sluice away funds from bank accounts without the owner noticing it.

Ransomware is by far the most obnoxious type of malware any computer user can deal with. This has made it so successful over the past few years. Ransomware victims have very few options, since there is often no viable way to get rid of the malware without making a payment or restoring files from a backup. Since very few people actively make system backups, making a payment is often the only choice. There is no reason to take this threat lightly.

It is also interesting to note how the same AV-TEST report notes the increase in Macintosh malware. In fact, that “industry” grew by roughly 370% over the past year. Windows is still the platform more prone to ransomware attacks, but Macintosh is certainly an attractive target to a lot of malware developers. Only time will tell what the future holds, but never take a ransomware threat lightly, no matter how harmless it may seem.