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2018 set to be worst year for cyber-attacks

Acronis expects 2018 to be the worst year for cyber-attacks and data loss incidents due to more sophisticated attacks, growing ransomware families and low awareness of ransomware among users

John Zanni
John Zanni

According to a new data protection survey commissioned by Acronis, over 60 per cent of respondents have never heard of ransomware, an expensive attack that Cybersecurity Ventures predicts will cost more than $11 billion in 2019, up from $5 billion last year.

In 2017, the number of ransomware variants increased by 46 per cent, making prevention and detection more challenging. According to the Ransomware Damage Report, the cyber threat will keep growing, with ransomware attacking a business every 14 seconds in the next two years, up from 40 seconds this year, and it does include attacks individuals, which are much more frequent. Acronis warns that only a high-quality, secure back-up solution that integrates proactive protection against ransomware can prevent data loss and protect devices.

Cost will only increase

Without the understanding of what ransomware is, and how to prevent being a victim of this cyber-attack, the cost to people and businesses will only increase. Ransomware criminals have perfected their social engineering skills and continue to take advantage of security flaws that bypass traditional anti-virus software, which is unable to detect such attacks. According to the Ponemon Institute, 69 per cent of organisations don’t believe their anti-virus can stop the threats they’re seeing.

In addition, because cyber criminals recognise how effective back-up is at thwarting their attacks, many new strains of ransomware now target back-up files and back-up software. 62 per cent of survey respondents didn’t know that ransomware can encrypt files and backups. Even more staggering, 33 per cent reported that they don’t back up their data. Only secure back-up solutions, such as Acronis Backup and Acronis True Image, which include an AI-based active protection defence against ransomware, are capable of detecting and blocking these sophisticated attacks.

“Ransomware attacks have made headlines over the past year. Yet despite the growing number of attacks, the awareness of the problem and the importance of preventing the attacks seem to be slowing down,” said John Zanni, President of Acronis. “Awareness to help people realise the importance of securely backing up and protecting data needs to grow.”

Robert Westervelt, Research Director, Security Products, IDC said: “Ransomware is a silent killer of all exposed information worldwide. The recent rounds of ransomware attacks proved that businesses and institutions across the globe underestimated this growing threat. The biggest concern is that those affected are willing to pay ransom rather than proactively protect their systems and devises. However this growing threat forced companies, like Acronis, to develop innovative technologies and help companies and users all over the world fight ransomware attacks.”

Preparing for cyber-attacks

Ahead of World Back-up Day on March 31, Acronis completed a consumer survey regarding data protection, polling the general internet population in seven different countries, including the US, UK, Australia, Germany, Spain, France and Japan. Additional results include the fact that nearly 39 per cent of respondents have four or more devices in their household, meaning more end points and data to protect and that over 29 per cent of respondents experienced data loss.

As a response to the growing ransomware epidemic, Acronis enhanced its back-up solutions with innovative new anti-ransomware technology.Debuted in January 2017, Acronis Active Protection actively defends both user files and their back-ups by identifying and blocking ransomware attacks in real-time. In the last twelvemonths, Acronis Active Protection stopped 200,000 attacks across 180,000 consumer devices.

The company also introduced Acronis Active Protection Free, an additional level of defence that can be used together with other data protection solutions, such as anti-virus and back-up software from other vendors. It monitors system processes in real-time to automatically detect and stop the attacks other solutions can’t. In event of a ransomware attack, Acronis Ransomware Protection blocks the malicious process and notifies the user with a pop up. If any files were damaged in the attack, it facilitates the instant recovery of those affected files.

Top tips to protect data

Always have a back-up of your important data. Store your data locally and in the cloud.

Keep your operating system and software up to date. It will block cyber criminals from entering your system through any known security holes.

Be mindful of suspicious email, links and attachments. The most effective infiltration method used by ransomware criminals is getting users to open infected email attachments and to click on links to malicious websites.

Install anti-virus software on your computer and enable automatic signature updates. If you are on a PC, make sure your Windows Defender is enabled and is up to date.