McAfee Labs saw an average of eight new cyber security threat samples per second in the fourth quarter of 2017, it has said.

The McAfee Labs Threats Report: March 2018 found that the healthcare sector experienced a huge 211 per cent rise in disclosed security incidents in 2017, while fileless malware leveraging Microsoft PowerShell grew by 267 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017.

New types of ransomware grew by 35 per cent, according to McAfee, recording a 59 per cent year-on-year increase by the end of the year.

Malware was the biggest cyber security threat, with the company finding that in the fourth quarter and the year overall, malware led disclosed attack vectors. This was followed by account hijacking, leaks, distributed denial of service, and code injection.

There was also a significant increase in mobile malware recorded in 2017, with total mobile malware seeing a 55 per cent rise. However, when it came to new mobile malware, the company reported that last year saw a drop of 35 per cent from the third quarter of 2017 to the fourth. In total, 2017 saw a three per cent fall in new samples.

Ransomware was another major threat in 2017, according to McAfee’s report. New ransomware samples grew 59 per cent over the last four quarters, while the fourth quarter saw a 35 per cent increase. In total, the number of ransomware samples rose by 16 per cent in the last quarter, reaching 14.8 million samples.

Steve Grobman, McAfee chief technology officer, said: “By going digital along with so many other things in our world, crime has become easier to execute, less risky and more lucrative than ever before.

“It should be no surprise to see criminals focusing on stealthy fileless PowerShell attacks, low risk routes to cash through cryptocurrency mining, and attacks on soft targets such as hospitals.”

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