Malware infections dropped drastically in the first half of 2016

A lock screen displayed by the commonly used Petya ransomware

Malware infections have dropped drastically in the first half of 2016, according to a new report by cybersecurity software provider Enigma Software.

Enigma analyzed 30 million infected computers, and found that while malware and ransomware infections still remained at an all-time high relative to previous years, the rate of malware infections had dropped 47.3% compared to the first half of 2015.

Enigma also found that June 2016 saw the lowest rate of malware infections in over three years, since April 2013. While this news speaks positively to the ability for cybersecurity and SaaS providers to adapt to new threats and release security patches for threatening trojans and viruses, malware infections have consistently trended upward over the past several years.

"We believe current web browsers and anti-malware software have become much more effective at blocking potential malware before it even gets onto computers," said Ryan Gerding, an independent PR executive and Enigma's current spokesperson.

"We believe there are a number of factors that are causing a drop in overall infections detected by [Enigma's anti-virus software] SpyHunter," said Gerding. "First, people are relying more than ever on their mobile devices to do a growing number of internet tasks. PCs 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," said Gerding. "Each of these types of infections are commonly bundled into other software when computer users download programs online. We think a growing number of people have become more aware of this practice and are more wary of accidentally installing the unwanted software."

As we've reported over the past several months, ransomware infections have been on the rise for years. This growing cybersecurity threat prompted Justin Luna to write an editorial detailing the potential compromises from ransomware software, and the security woes it may pose to infected users.

According to Gerding, ransomware infections comprise an increasingly large percentage of malware infections, and this may pose a significant threat to end-users.

"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.”

According to Gerding, while raw infections dropped in June 2016, this may be due in part to a string of arrests by Russian authorities of high-profile hackers who targeted thousands of systems with malware, earning over 1.7 billion rubles ($25 million). While these hackers now face prison time, many more opportunists will flood in to take their place, and malware infections could be on the rise again very soon.

Source: Enigma Software

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