Do you need to renew your antivirus software licence for 2017? You bet your bottom dollar you do. AV-TEST has reported that computer users are threatened with five new malware programs every second.

Cybercrime is likely to remain one of the top IT stories of the New Year, and it’s easy to see why. The AV-TEST database counted 115,149,242 new malware programs during the first half of 2016. The number is far higher than the 2015 period, which saw 143,974,553 new malware samples over the whole year.

This translates to an average rate of four to five new malware threats per second. More than one third of malware detections involved internet worms. In second and third place, traditional computer viruses followed, as well as the large army of specialised Trojans, including banking Trojans and the widely distributed ransomware.

This growth has been made worse still by the proliferation of DIY malware such as ‘ransomware-as-a-service’, which is now allowing relatively unskilled users to create their own malicious code and target their enemies online.

Strategic changes put mobile devices at greater risk

Recently, criminals have altered their strategy and have been increasingly relying on viruses and Trojans. Thus, virus proliferation alone is increasing by 19 per cent year on year.

The same report by AV-TEST shows a massive increase in the number of threats to Android devices – with iOS devices seeing a much lower level of risk.

In September 2016, the total number of Android malware recorded by AV-TEST was 16,514,928, with 725,738 of the malware programs recorded in that month being new.

Crimeware trends for 2017

Warning about crimeware trends for 2017, SC Magazine says we should watch out for banking Trojans, Zeus peddlers and “the bank heist bunch”.

Banking Trojans sit on a user’s computer, often stealing card information or login details for accounts.

Zeus malware is a popular code that keeps popping up as fraudsters like to experiment with it and build new botnets with it.

The bank heist bunch uses the Anunak malware to carry out massive theft attacks on banks. The gang has carried out a number of raids, including an $81m theft at Bangladesh Bank.

How to protect yourself from malware

It’s impossible to remove the risk of infection completely but, in the face of this ever-growing threat, users are advised to take every precaution possible. The following advice can help keep your data safe and avoid disruption to your business.

Know your sender – never open email attachments from unknown senders.

Choose your ISP wisely – use a security-conscious Internet service provider (ISP) that implements strong anti-spam and anti-phishing procedures.

Update your antivirus – your antivirus software should be set to update at regular intervals and manual checks are advisable too. If you have any questions regarding your own internet security software, please contact us to discuss this matter as a matter of urgency.

Beware malicious files – invoices and delivery notes from well-known suppliers are designed to tempt you to click. But most online retailers do not send file attachments with their order updates, so resist clicking them.

Be careful what you download! There is no such thing as a free lunch and ‘freeware’ as well as P2P programs are amongst the biggest culprits. These software applications are frequently bundled with copious amounts of bundled spyware.

Phishing and ID theft – be especially wary of hyperlinks that appear to originate from your bank, building society, telecoms provider, PayPal account etc. A useful tip is to hover your mouse over any such link to reveal whether the URL actually does originate from the website in question.

Back up your data – if all else fails, make sure you have a robust and comprehensive backup to fall back on.