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WannaCry was the most common crypto ransomware attack last year

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Almost a quarter (23.56%) of all encryption ransomware attacks that occurred in 2019 had encountered the WannaCry virus according to new research from

Ransomware attacks against government agencies, healthcare organizations, the energy sector and education continue to rise. While the effects of some simple ransomware can be reversed, more advanced malware exploits a technique called crypto-viral extortion to put money in the hands of cybercriminals.

WannaCry targets computers running Microsoft's Windows operating system, encrypts their data and demands payment of a ransom in cryptocurrency to get it back. According to estimates, the WannaCry ransomware attack affected 230k computers around the world and caused $4bn in damages.

Most users that fell victim to WannaCry did so because they failed to update their systems to the latest version of Windows which is why updating software and operating systems regularly is an essential step to stay protected against ransomware.

Spam emails's 2019 research data shows that phishing scams were the most common cause of ransomware infection globally last year. Over 67 percent of MSP users reported ransomware attacks caused by spam and phishing emails.

In fact the firm's research revealed that spam emails made up 55 percent of global email traffic during 2019 which explains the high number of ransomware infections.

A lack of cybersecurity training also played a role in the high number of infections with a 36 percent share in the combined number of ransomware attacks that occurred last year. Weak passwords led to another 30 percent of infections and poor user practices caused one-quarter of all ransomware attacks.

The WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 caused a great deal of damage but it also helped awaken the public to the high number of cyber threats online.

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Anthony Spadafora

After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal and TechRadar. He has been a tech enthusiast for as long as he can remember and has spent countless hours researching and tinkering with PCs, mobile phones and game consoles.