Verizon report says ransomware is increasing and affecting companies

Published: April 27, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



A new report says ransomware cyberespionage is now the most common threat facing global education, manufacturing, and public sectors.

The Verizon 2017 Data Breach Report (DBIR) was released on Thursday and shows that ransomware is becoming an increasing concern and is not the fifth most common type of malware. Ransomware attacks have increased by 50 percent over the last year.

Verizon says it studied 2,000 breaches when compiling its 2017 report and also analysed 300 espionage-related threats. The largest network carrier in the United States says that most attacks are caused by phishing scams.

The company has been issuing Data Breach Reports for a decade. In its tenth year, the latest report takes data from 65 global organizations and analysed 42,068 incidents and 1,955 breaches across 84 countries.

Major findings include:

  • The top three industries for data breaches are financial services (24%), healthcare (15%) and public sector (12%);
  • Companies in the manufacturing industry are the most common targets for email-based malware;
  • Sixty-eight per cent of healthcare threat actors are internal to the organization;
  • 51% of data breaches analyzed involved malware. Ransomware, which uses technology to extort money from victims – saw a 50% increase from last year’s report, and a “huge jump” from the 2014 DBIR, where it ranked 22 in the types of malware used;
  • Last year, Verizon flagged the growing use of phishing techniques linked to software installation on a user’s device. In this year’s report, 95% of phishing attacks followed this process. Forty-three per cent of data breaches utilized phishing, and the method is used in both cyberespionage and financially motivated attacks;
  • Pretexting, where an individual lies to gain privileged information, is another tactic on the increase, and the 2017 DBIR showed that it is predominantly targeted at financial department employees – the ones who hold the keys to money transfers. Email was the top communication vector, accounting for 88% of financial pretexting incidents, with phone communications in second place with just under 10%; and
  • Sixty-one per cent of victims analyzed were businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees.

“Cyberattacks targeting the human factor are still a major issue,” said Bryan Sartin, executive director of global security services with Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “Cybercriminals concentrate on four key drivers of human behaviour to encourage individuals to disclose information: eagerness, distraction, curiosity and uncertainty. And as our report shows, it is working, with a significant increase in both phishing and pretexting this year.”

Ransomware is concerning because it is growing in popularity. This type of attack has been well publicized, by organizations are slow to realize the threat and many are still using security solutions ill-equipped to prevent ransomware.