Europol Alerts of Global Epidemic Ransomware Attacks

Yesterday, Europol warned that ransomware is now attacking globally. The attacks affect computers worldwide, as well as internet-linked devices such as routers and CCTV cameras turning them into hackers tools.

“Ransomware attacks have eclipsed most other global cybercrime threats, with the first half of 2017 witnessing ransomware attacks on a scale previously unseen,” said Europol, when releasing its latest annual report on internet organised crime.

The report featured the WannaCry ransomware attack in May, which has infected approximately 300,000 targets in 150 countries including some high-profile ones such as Britain’s National Health Service, Spanish telecoms company Telefonica, and Fed-Ex logistics company.

“The global impact of huge cyber security events such as the WannaCry ransomware epidemic has taken the threat from cybercrime to another level,” said the chief of Europol Rob Wainwright.

“Banks and other major businesses are now targeted on a scale not seen before,” he added.

The first “massive attacks” on insecure devices connected to the so-called internet of things were registered in 2016.

At that time, the Mirai malware hacked into about 150,000 internet-linked devices like cellphones, routers, printers and security cameras to mount a “complex… sophisticated” attack.

After hacking the devices, Mirai transformed them into botnets capable of launching a so-called distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

These were responsible for numerous high profile attacks, including one which severely disrupted internet infrastructure on the West Coast of the USA.

Nevertheless, Europol warned that the “collective response to cyber-criminals is still not good enough.”

“In particular people and companies everywhere must do more to better protect themselves,” they said.

Europol’s latest report also stated that in 2016 there was an unprecedented increase in data breaches with huge amounts of data being stolen, including over two billion records related to EU citizens reportedly leaked over a 12-month period.

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