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Ransomware set to become more potent, Cisco says

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Ransomware is dominating the malware market and has evolved to become “the most profitable malware type in history” with even more dangerous versions anticipated, says Cisco Systems Inc. in a report.

“In the first half of 2016, ransomware campaigns targeting both individual and enterprise users became more widespread and potent,” the San Jose-based technology company said in a report.

On the horizon are “faster and more effective propagation methods that maximize the impact of ransomware campaigns and increase the probability that adversaries will generate significant revenues,” says “Cisco 2016 Midyear Cybersecurity Report,” issued Tuesday.

The report says ransomware targets “are in the unenviable position of having to trust their attackers. While it may seem that paying the ransom is the easiest (and only thing) to do, it is important for users in a ransomware situation to understand that their files may not be decrypted and could even be lost. Bugs in early versions of some ransomware variants resulted in file loss, even when the ransom was paid.”

The report also warns that attackers may tamper with files under their control and that the chance of re-infection is another concern.

The report recommends firms prepare for ransomware attacks by backing up critical data and confirming that these backups will not be susceptible to compromise, among other measures.