Mobile ransomware actors are focusing their attacks on wealthy countries, according to the annual ransomware report from Kaspersky Lab. The report, which covers April 2016 to March 2017, shows that the United States was the country with the highest percentage of mobile users attacked with mobile ransomware, followed by Canada, Germany and the U.K.

Mobile ransomware activity soared in the first quarter of 2017, with 218,625 mobile Trojan-Ransomware installation packages, which is 3.5 times more than in the previous quarter. Despite a small reprieve, the mobile threat landscape is still arousing anxiety, Kaspersky Lab said, as criminals target nations with developed financial and payment infrastructures.

Developed markets not only have a higher level of income, but also more advanced and widely used mobile and e-payment systems that can be easily compromised.

During the period of 2015-2016, Germany was the country with the highest percentage of mobile users attacked with mobile ransomware (almost 23 percent), as a proportion of users attacked with any kind of mobile malware. It’s followed by Canada (almost 20 percent), the U.K. and the U.S., exceeding 15 percent.

This changed in 2016-2017 with the U.S. shifting from fourth to first position (almost 19 percent). Canada and Germany retained their top-three ranking with almost 19 percent and over 15 percent respectively, leaving the U.K. ranked fourth place with more than 13 percent.

“These geographical changes in the mobile ransomware landscape could be a sign of the trend to spread attacks to rich, unprepared, vulnerable or yet unreached regions,” said Roman Unuchek, security expert at Kaspersky Lab. “This obviously means that users, especially in these countries, should be extremely cautious when surfing the web.”

Other key findings from the mobile ransomware report: the total number of users who encountered ransomware between April 2016 and March 2017 rose by 11 percent compared with the previous 12 months; among those who encountered ransomware, the proportion that encountered cryptors rose from 31 percent in 2015-2016 to 45 percent in 2016-2017; the number of users attacked with mobile ransomware fell by 5 percent.

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Bob Violino

Bob Violino

Bob Violino is a freelance technology and business writer who covers a variety of topics, including big data and analytics, cloud computing, information security and mobile technology.