New data released by Kaspersky Lab last week found that the number of people who encountered ransomware during the last year increased by more than 500% over the previous year.
Kaspersky researchers say the number of reported ransomware attacks jumped from 131,111 to 718,536 between April 2015 and March 2016.
Meanwhile, the number of enterprise users attacked by ransomware jumped from about 7% of all ransomware victims to more than 13% a year later.
Ransomware continues to pose a significant threat to all types of institutions, both public and private. Earlier this month, the University of Calgary in Canada became the victim of a ransomware attack and paid about $16,000, or $20,000 CDN, to cyberattackers. In February, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles paid the equivalent of $17,000 in bitcoins to a hacker to regain control of its computer systems.
While experts warn that paying ransoms will only encourage cybercriminals, if cybercriminals ask for relatively small amounts of money, many small to medium-sized businesses would prefer to pay and get their data back more quickly than attempt to recover their data in other, more complex ways.
But paying a ransom isn’t a guarantee. University of Calgary systems were down for more than a week after it paid the ransom.
A Kaspersky Lab report released in May found ransomware is now the most prolific cyberthreat of 2016. The FBI also recently warned businesses about the rising flood of ransomware.
"The uptick and variance in ransomware in the first quarter of 2016…has been unbelievable," said James Trainor, cyber division assistant director for the FBI in May. Trainor advised companies that become victims of a ransomware attack not to pay because it only encourages the hackers.