Ransomware attacks in 2017 until October surpassed the total number experienced in 2016 by 62 per cent, according to a new report by Malwarebytes.

The report, titled 'The New Mafia: Gangs and Vigilantes – A Guide to Cybercrime for CEOs', also found that there was an almost 2,000 per cent increase in ransomware detections since 2015. This rose to hundreds of thousands of detections in September 2017, from less than 16,000 in September 2015.

In its report, Malwarebytes focused on the new age of organised cybercrime, to describe how this ‘New Mafia’ is speeding up the volume of attacks, sophistication and malice, explaining that the monthly incidence of these attacks has increased 23 per cent in 2017 compared to 2016.

According to the company, “this new generation of cyber criminals increasingly resembles traditional Mafia organisations, not just in their professional coordination, but their willingness to intimidate and paralyse victims”. Malwarebytes said its data confirms the capacity of these fast-maturing gangs to inflict greater damage on businesses.

It was also found that ransomware detections increased more than threefold in the months from January to October 2017, rising from 90,351 to 333,871.

Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes, said: “The ‘New Mafia’, identified by our report, is characterised by the emergence of four distinct groups of cyber criminals: traditional gangs, state-sponsored attackers, ideological hackers and hackers-for-hire.

“Through greater vigilance and a comprehensive understanding of the cybercrime landscape, businesses can support the efforts of legislators and law enforcement, while also taking action into their own hands.”

The report has suggested that engaging and educating the C-suite is necessary in order for chief executives to become as likely as IT departments to recognise the signs of an attack and be able to respond appropriately.

Mr Kleczynski explained that the most damaging cyber attacks for businesses are those that go undetected for long periods. He added that, despite a number of high-profile attacks in the last year, his company’s report shows that many business executives may still have some knowledge gaps to fill.

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