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Trend Micro blocked over 52 billion unique cyber-threats in 2019, 61 million of which were ransomware, according to its annual roundup report.

The security firm revealed that email remained by far the most popular threat vector, accounting for 91% of all threats. It detected 15% more email threats than in 2018, including a 5% increase in BEC detections.

Phishing detections dropped from 2018, but the number of unique Office 365-related URLs that the vendor blocked jumped 100% from the previous year.

Despite the number of new ransomware families falling by 55% year-on-year, there was a 10% overall increase in the detection of new components.

Critical vulnerabilities have always been one of the biggest sources of cyber-risk and in 2019 things escalated even further, with a 171% increase in high severity disclosures to Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI).

IoT devices were also on the receiving end of a barrage of botnet-powered attacks targeting flaws in these devices, and Trend Micro also detected a massive 189% surge in brute force login attempts aimed at connected endpoints.

Trend Micro also detected a 6% increase in malicious Android apps to nearly 32 million last year, with many millions of downloads coming via the official Play store.

Trend Micro global director, Jon Clay, argued that digital transformation continues to open too many doors for cyber-criminals.

“Despite the prevalent ideals of digital transformation, lack of basic security hygiene, legacy systems with outdated operating systems and unpatched vulnerabilities are still a reality,” he added. “This scenario is ideal for ransomware actors looking for a quick return on investment. As long as the ransom scheme continues to be profitable, criminals will continue to leverage it.”

Trend Micro recommended network segmentation, regular back-ups and continuous monitoring to help tackle ransomware, alongside other best practices such as regular updates, virtual patching and tighter access controls with multi-factor authentication.

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