Malware infections in the United States have dropped 47.3% in the first six months of 2016, according to data released today by Enigma Software Group (www.enigmasoftware.com). However, Enigma warns that computer users should not be lulled into complacency.
The experts at Enigma analyzed infection reports generated by all of the computers in the U.S. that have Enigma’s SpyHunter installed and running on them. Looking at more than 30 million infections in the last 18 months, Enigma found that the average number of monthly infections in the first six months of 2016 was 47.3% lower than the average number of monthly infections from all of 2015. In fact, June 2016 had the lowest number of overall infections of any month dating back to April 2013.
“We believe there are a number of factors that are causing a drop in overall infections detected by SpyHunter,” said Enigma spokesperson,Ryan Gerding. “First, people are relying more than ever on their mobile devices to do a growing number of internet tasks. PC’s are still incredibly important, but as more work is done on mobile devices, that reduces time spent on PCs, which reduces infections. Second, we believe consumers have become more aware of some of the common mistakes that lead to the more common infections: adware, potentially unwanted programs, and toolbars.”
He adds that each of these types of infections are commonly bundled into other software when computer users download programs online. Enigma thinks a growing number of people have become more aware of this practice and are more wary of accidentally installing the unwanted software. Third, the company believes current web browsers and anti-malware software have become much more effective at blocking potential malware before it even gets onto computers.
Despite the good news surrounding the drop in overall infections, there is still some disconcerting news about the popularity of ransomware. Ransomware is malicious software that will encrypt and lock up valuable files on a persons computer things like photos and videos and Word documents and holds them hostage until a ransom is paid. Ransomware infections have gotten a lot of attention in recent months as some major businesses have been hit, some of which were forced to pay the ransom to get their valuable data back.
Enigmas analysis of 2016 ransomware infections found that the raw number of monthly ransomware infections jumped 7.92% over 2015. When you consider that overall infections dropped 47.3%, the fact that ransomware infections actually rose is disturbing.
“Ransomware infections make up a tiny fraction of all infections,” Gerding said. “Our concern is that, while small, their overall share of the infection pie is growing. In fact, if you looked at the percentage of infections made up by ransomware in 2016, you would see a 119% spike from 2015. To us, this means malware makers may be shifting their attention to less common, but much more costly infections like ransomware.
Even reports of a tapering of ransomware infections in t he last couple of months may only be a temporary reprieve. While its true that the raw number of infections in May and June did drop from Aprils high, Enigma believes this may be in part because of a string of arrests of ransomware makers in Russia earlier this spring. A brief hiccup in ransomware distribution worldwide is likely to be just thatbrief.
Despite the drop in overall infections, there still are millions of computers nationwide getting infections every day.