Ransomware is On the Rise and Getting More Expensive

Human hand holding , ... ]

Human hand holding , ... ] Nicescene/Shutterstock.com

Americans are more willing to pay up, a survey found.

Incidents of ransomware are becoming more frequent and the cost is rising.

According to Verizon's 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report, it's the fifth most common form of malware. Ransomware targets private citizens, retailers and hospitals but the government also ends up in the crosshairs. In 2016, ransomware on government agencies tripled.

"Holding files for ransom is fast, low risk and easily monetizable—especially with Bitcoin to collect anonymous payment," the Verizon report stated.

Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report put a price tag on all these attacks. In 2015, the average ransom was just shy of $300 per victim. In 2016, cybercriminals demanded on average over $1,000 per victim. That number might rise, as Americans are much more likely to pay up than people in other countries, giving hackers more incentive. 

So what can you do to help prevent becoming victim? The Verizon report suggests watching out for macro-enabled Microsoft Office documents and updating all of your software.