IBM Security’s X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services (IRIS) team reported this week that it witnessed a 200 percent increase in destructive malware attacks over the first half of 2019, compared to the second half of 2018.

These malware attacks typically incorporated a disk wiper component to them. Wipers are historically associated with nation-state-sponsored attacks against politically strategic targets. However, the activity that the IRIS team encountered largely consisted of financially-motivated attacks that combined ransomware’s malicious encryption capabilities with disk wiper functionality, in order to create even more dire consequences for victims who fail to pay the ransom demand. Malware strains exhibiting these dual functionalities include LockerGoga and MegaCortex.

“Now you have to not only recover the data that you lost, but you have to recover the entire operating system along with that and that’s a larger effort for a company to work with,” said Christopher Scott, global remediation lead at X-Force IRIS, in a video interview with SC Media at Black Hat in Las Vegas. And that places more pressure on impacted organizations to acquiesce to the attackers’ demands.

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