According to a report from cyber security provider Enigma Software, the average number of monthly infections in the first half of 2016 was 47.3% lower than the last year. ESG analyzed 30 million infected computers and found June 2016 had the lowest number of malware infections since April 2013.
ESG spokesperson Ryan Gerding mentioned a number of factors that have contributed to the decrease in overall infections.
“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 in mobile devices, that reduces time spent on PCs, which reduces infections, but it can lead to mobile infection rates to rise.
“Second, we believe consumers have become more aware of some of the common mistakes that lead to the more common infections such as: adware, potentially unwanted programs, and toolbars. Each of these types of infections are commonly bundled into other software when computer users download software. We think a growing number of people have become more aware of this practice and are more wary of accidentally installing unwanted software.”
“Third, major browsers (Firefox, Chrome, etc.) and popular apps are releasing security updates regularly to patch vulnerabilities and prevent the installation of malware.”
Ransomware Still On the Rise
Despite a dramatic decrease in overall malware infections, Ransomware infections are still rising. ESG's analysis found that the raw number of monthly ransomware infections jumped 7.92% over 2015.
According to Gerding, Ransomware may pose a significant threat to end-users. It encrypts and locks valuable files and holds them hostage until the ransom is paid.
Ransomware infections make up a tiny fraction of all infections, but their overall share is still growing. The percentage of infections made up by ransomware in 2016 reveals an 119% spike from 2015. This could mean that malware makers may be shifting their attention towards it.
Following a string of arrests of Russian malware makers, the raw number of malware infections did drop a bit in June. However, ESG believes as long as there are other ways to distribute malware, the numbers could rise again.
ESG also released a list of “most malware-infected cities” with Tampa, St. Louis, Orlando, and Denver on the top.