A new cybersecurity alert warns that the exponential growth of ransomware as a cybercriminal tool may be turning this malware epidemic into the “largest crime wave in modern history.”

According to the PhishMe April Cybercrime Alert, the cybersecurity community should expect ransomware attacks to continue to increase—especially against businesses and government agencies—because this malware is easily available, evolves quickly and has been proven effective and lucrative.

The bulletin also attempts to dispel a “common misconception that adding layers of automated defense technologies will reduce the risk of falling victim to ransomware attacks.” In reality, a simple phishing attack is enough to foil these best defenses. 

“The combination of cryptocurrency, an increase in world-wide data connectivity, poor backup procedures, and employees who are ill-equipped to help defend against phishing attacks has led to the perfect storm for ransomware to succeed,” said Rohyt Belani, PhishMe CEO and co-founder, in the alert. "Ransomware attacks have the potential to become the biggest crime in digital history.”