Ransomware has given way to crypto-ransomware as the method of choice for cybercriminals targeting Australia, according to Trend Micro's annual security roundup report released today.
With data increasingly being held hostage locally and across the globe, crypto-ransomware rose to 83 per cent of overall ransomware use in 2015. Cryptowall was the most frequently used variant, arriving on users' computers via email or malicious downloads.
Ransomware and crypto-ransomware threats are specifically targeting Australian businesses and consumers, carefully crafting attacks to breach security systems by looking and feeling legitimate to users.
"Crypto-ransomware threats have a significant impact on businesses; often the damage done due to downtime and data recovery costs is well beyond the ransom required to restore the files," said Indi Siriniwasa, enterprise sales and channel director for Trend Micro Australia and New Zealand. "Australian businesses need to consider their response to these threats which demand a holistic approach to IT security."
The annual Trend Micro security roundup report dissects the most significant security incidents from 2015. The research confirms attackers are now bolder, smarter and more daring in attack vectors, cyberespionage efforts and cyber underground activity on a global basis.
The report found that Australia was ranked third in the world for countries with the most number of users who clicked on malicious URLs in 2015.
Australia was also ranked the third most affected country in the world for Angler Exploit Kits in 2015. From malvertising to Adobe Flash, the Angler Exploit Kit gained notoriety in 2015 as the most used exploit, accounting for 57.3 per cent of overall exploit kit usage.
"Our observations for 2015 have confirmed that traditional methods of protecting data and assets are no longer sufficient and should be reassessed to maintain the highest level of corporate and personal security," continued Indi Siriniwasa.
"The prevalence and sophistication of extortion, cyberespionage and expanding targeted attacks now dictate that organisational security strategies must be prepared to defend against a potentially greater onslaught in 2016. This realisation can help the security community better anticipate and respond to what attackers are trying to accomplish."
Online banking infections in Australia continued to increase, presenting a growing concern for consumers. Australia saw 9,298 infected PCs in the fourth quarter of 2015, up from 1,197 in Q3.
"Cybercriminals are continuing to target consumers in increasingly sophisticated ways, catching Australians unaware of the threats and falling victim to cybercrime," said Tim Falinski, consumer director, Trend Micro Australia and New Zealand.
"With Android malware around the world now at 10.6 million and climbing, and crypto-ransomware targeting ordinary people as well as businesses, consumers should make themselves aware of the threats and ensure all their devices — from smartphones to PCs to connected smart devices – are protected."
Online extortion and cyberattacks were a top concern in 2015, with several high-profile organisations being victimised. Ashley Madison, Hacking Team, the Office of Personal Management and Anthem were a few of these high-profile attacks that left millions of employees and customers exposed.