Ransomware Goes Viral, But FBI Left Out of Loop

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Photo by Christiann Colen via Flickr

Despite its expanding threat, ransomware infections are rarely reported to law enforcement agencies, according to the FBI’s latest Internet Crime Report. Bleeping Computer reports that the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received just 2,673 complaints about ransomware attacks in 2016. Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. Victims who did report to the FBI said the attacks resulted in just $2.4 million in damages in 2016. But the numbers do not reflect what’s happening in the real world, where ransomware is one of today’s most prevalent cyber-threats, according to multiple reports from cyber-security companies.

Experts suggest that people and companies are paying ransoms, restoring files from backups, or reinstalling PCs without filing a complaint with authorities. Last year, the FBI reported that ransomware incidents had doubled from 2014 to 2015. In 2016, the number of ransomware complaints remained the same, despite cyber-security companies reporting an increase in activity. For example, an IBM report said email spam spreading ransomware spiked 6,000 percent in 2016, while a PhishMe report said spam delivering ransomware accounted for 37 percent of all email spam. A Carbon Black report said ransomware operators were on track to make nearly $850 million from ransom payments this year.

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