UK is now the most targeted nation for cyber attacks, says Malwarebytes

Red skull and crossbones atop binary code, under a magnifying glass

The UK is now the most targeted region in the world for cyber threats following a 134% rise in hijacking attempts against British machines and soaring ransomware attacks.

That's according to Malwarebytes' annual State of Malware report, that revealed UK bound ransomware has increased by 165%, having accelerated at at a pace almost double that of the US.

These attacks peaked in May during the height of the WannaCry ransomware campaign, which also helped contribute to a 700% global rise in ransomware threats between July and September 2017, according to Malwarebytes' telemetry, a 10 times increase on the monthly rate of ransomware attacks in 2016.

Ransomware across the globe saw a 90% hike against businesses and a 93% increase against consumers over the course of 2017.

However, towards the end of the year, Malwarebytes detects a decrease in global ransomware, indicating that cyber criminals could be moving away from using the attack technique.

The study illustrates not only an overall surge in ransomware attacks across the globe, but also a significant shift in attack methodology of hackers, an evolution in the predominant tools used and generally a sharp increases in malware-based cyber crime, including banking trojans, spyware, adware and cryptocurrency mining.

One such area to pay attention to is the increase in spyware, which rocketed up by 882% in the UK according to supplementary data from Malwarebytes.

Another is how the sudden increase in interest around cryptocurrencies has lead to malicious actors making use of cryptomining tools to exploit malware infected machines in order to generate digital currencies surreptitiously.

"The last year has certainly thrown us a few curveballs, with massive ransomware attacks, changes in malware distribution and the significant increase in cryptocurrency miners," said Marcin Kleczynski, Malwarebytes CEO.

"With 2018 just getting started, these findings can help pave the way for increased awareness, C-level participation, and enhanced technologies to better protect both consumers and businesses."

Dale Walker

Dale Walker is the Managing Editor of ITPro, and its sibling sites CloudPro and ChannelPro. Dale has a keen interest in IT regulations, data protection, and cyber security. He spent a number of years reporting for ITPro from numerous domestic and international events, including IBM, Red Hat, Google, and has been a regular reporter for Microsoft's various yearly showcases, including Ignite.