27 Must-Know Malware Statistics

Millions of malware attacks happen every day, from trojan viruses to malware. These attacks target both businesses and personal computers in the never-ending war between security systems and malicious software. In this article, we’ll dig into 27 key malware statistics, including ransomware and mobile malware. Read on.

Malware Attack Statistics

1. 19.8% of Computers Are Subject to Web-Based Malware Attacks Annually

Over the course of a year, 19.8% of computers are subjected to at least one web-based malware attack. This includes both home computers and those associated with businesses. Additionally, it represents multiple attack vectors, such as compromised sights, malicious ads, and more.

While a significant portion is blocked – either by browsers, plug-ins, or security software – it shows how frequently computers are at risk.

[Source: Kaspersky]

2. Classic Computer Virus-Style Malware Infections Are Declining, Falling 43% Globally Between 2019 and 2020

Overall, there were approximately 5.6 billion classic computer virus-style malware infections in 2020. While that number is large, it’s a far cry from years past. The rate dropped by 43 percent when compared to 2019 figures, which measured in slightly above 9.9 billion.

[Source: Sonic Wall]

3. 92% of Malware Is Delivered by Email

When it comes to malware delivery, email is still the preferred approach. Ninety-two percent of malware reaches people via email, either through the use of malicious attachments or links steering them to malicious sites.

[Source: Purplesec]

4. 77% of American Adults Use Antivirus Software

Generally speaking, antivirus software is the simplest option for protecting systems against malware. With antivirus applications, malicious code or activities can be detected before they cause harm or are properly removed if they infect a system.

Among American adults, 77% have antivirus software on at least some of their systems. However, that means 23% are going without this basic form of protection against computer viruses.

[Source: Security.org]

5. Trojans Make Up More than Half of All Malware

When it comes to malware, the most common form is trojans. These viruses are designed to look like safe programs, often in an attempt to increase download rates and avoid detection by traditional safeguards, such as antivirus software. Overall, trojans make up 51.45% of all malware.

[Source: Purplesec]

6. 30,000 Websites Are Hacked Daily to Deliver Malicious Code

Hacking a legitimate website and altering it to deliver malicious code is a popular distribution approach for malware. It’s such a common approach, in fact, that approximately 30,000 existing sites are hacked and altered to deliver malicious code daily.

The strategy takes advantage of an existing level of trust. Since repeat visitors are familiar with the site, they are potentially more likely to engage with it without any concerns about safety, increasing the odds that they’ll encounter an attack. Plus, it may take search engines time to realize the website is compromised, preventing certain safeguards from kicking in as quickly.

[Source: Forbes]

7. 91% of Malware Attacks Were Sent Using Encrypted Traffic

While encryption may safeguard data, that doesn’t mean all encrypted traffic is inherently safe. During Q2 2021, 91% of all detected malware was sent using encrypted traffic, specifically SSL/TLS.

[Source: WatchGuard]

8. Throughout the Year, 75% of Healthcare Organizations End Up with Malware Infections

Within the healthcare industry, malware infections are unnervingly common. Overall, 75% of organizations operating in the sector end up with at least one malware infection over the course of a year.

[Source: PRN Newswire]

9. Mydoom – the Most Costly Computer Virus of All Time – Caused $38 Billion in Damage

When it comes to the destructive capabilities of computer viruses, Mydoom leads the pack. During 2004, the Mydoom computer virus – which was classified as a worm – wreaked havoc, infecting systems with shocking speed. As it ran its course, it caused an astounding $38 billion in damage.

During its heyday, Mydoom was responsible for 24% of all emails sent worldwide. It infected machines, scraped email addresses, then emailed copies of itself using the scraped addresses, creating a massive botnet. The primary goal was to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against specific sites, including Google.

Today, Mydoom is still around. It represents about 1% of all phishing emails, sending approximately 1.2 billion copies of itself out each year.

[Source: HP]

10. At 74% of Organizations Malware Spread From One Infected Device to Another

Malware spreading between infected systems is on the rise. In 2020, 61% of organizations discovered malware spreading from one device to the next. While that number is undoubtedly high, it is notably below more recent figures.

In 2021, that number rose, with 74% of organizations stating they saw viruses spreading between infected machines. That’s a 13 percentage point increase in just one year.

[Source: Mimecast]

Ransomware Statistics

11. 61% of Companies Experienced a Business-Disrupting Ransomware Attack During the Year

Over the course of 2020, an astounding 61% of organizations experienced a business-disrupting ransomware attack. While the nature, duration, and severity of the disruptions differed, they nonetheless resulted in losses, including reducing productivity or accessibility to customers.

Overall, that’s a marked increase over the 51% that dealt with the same scenario in 2019.

[Source: Mimecast]

12. 52% of Companies Facing a Ransomware Attack Paid the Hackers

Among companies that were impacted by a ransomware attack, a surprising 52% of companies decided to pay the hackers. However, of those, only 66% got their data back after payment.

The remaining 34% didn’t fully recover what was encrypted by the hackers. As a result, they were left without at least a portion of their data or system access as well as ended up shorter on funds.

[Source: Mimecast]

13. The Average Ransomware Payment Increased by 82% in 2021, Reaching $570,000

Overall, the size of ransoms related to ransomware infections is increasing. Year-over-year, the payment increased by 82% in 2021. That brought the average up to $570,000.

[Source: Purplesec]

14. Ransomware Attacks Rose in 2020 by 62%, Reaching a Global Total of 304.6 Million

Overall, ransomware is increasingly becoming a preferred attack vector for hackers looking to make a profit. Between 2019 and 2020, the rate of occurrence rose by 62%, with the total number of attacks in 2020 reaching 304.6 million globally.

[Source: Sonic Wall]

15. Each Day, There are Over 4,000 Ransomware Attacks

More than 4,000 ransomware attacks happen each day. Anyone can be a potential target, including private businesses, government agencies, other organizations, and home users.

[Source: Department of Justice]

16. The Average Total Cost of a Ransomware Attack is Close to $4.5 Million

While it’s easy to assume the cost of the ransom itself is all companies face, ransomware actually causes far more harm, resulting in additional costs. Between system damage, downtime, lost business, reputation harm, and other factors, the average total cost of a ransomware attack comes in at $4.44 million.

[Source: Government Technology]

17. On Average, Companies Experiencing Ransomware Attacks Have 6 Days of Related Downtime

The impact of a ransomware attack extends far beyond data loss. Typically, they also bring standard operations to a halt, resulting in significant amounts of downtime that can harm profit-earning potential, customer trust, and more. On average, companies experiencing a ransomware attack have six days of downtime related to the hack.

[Source: Mimecast]

Malware Detection Statistics

18. More Than 268,000 New Malware Variants Emerged in 2020

In 2020, 268,362 new malware variants were detected. These are never-before-seen versions of malware, representing a notable increase above the 153,909 new malware variants discovered in 2019.

[Source: Sonic Wall]

19. 25% of New Malware Variants Were Attached to Office Files

Due to the prevalence of Microsoft Office, Word, Excel, and similar file types are popular vectors for malware. Overall, 25% of new malware variants found in 2020 involved Office file types.

Another popular format – PDFs – were also connected to a high number of new malware variants. In total, 10% of the new malware variants were connected to the PDF file format.

[Source: Sonic Wall]

20. Among SMBs, Malware Lingers for an Average of Nearly 800 Days Before Discovery

Often, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) lack robust IT departments, leaving them less equipped to identify and combat malware in many cases. On average, the attack dwell times – the period between initial infection and detection – ranges between 43 and 895 days for SMBs.

While you may assume that the average dwell time would fall in the middle of that range, that isn’t the case. Instead, the average dwell time comes in at 798 days for malware, a period of more than two years. For riskware, the average is 869 days.

[Source: Tech Republic]

21. Median Dwell Time Globally Falls to 24 Days in 2020

Globally, the median dwell time has actually declined significantly over recent years, falling to just 24 days in 2020. While some of that reduction is due to better intrusion and infection detection methods, some of it’s actually attributed to the rise of ransomware.

Unlike certain other forms of malware, ransomware typically announces itself. It doesn’t linger in systems capturing information; it initiates encryption processes and then aggressively requests payment in exchange for giving system access or data back. Since securing a ransom is usually the goal, ransomware doesn’t involve delays, causing it to bump up average discovery times for the broader malware category.

[Source: CISO Mag]

Mobile Malware Statistics

22. On a Daily Basis, 24,000 Malicious Mobile Apps are Blocked

While it’s easy to assume that most mobile apps a person encounters are safe, a surprising number are dangerous. Overall, 24,000 malicious mobile apps are blocked each day, showcasing just how popular this attack vector is with cybercriminals.

[Source: Symantec]

23. Third-Party Mobile App Stores House 99.9% of Known Mobile Malware

When it comes to mobile apps, using the primary app store for a device is the more secure approach. A startling 99.9% of discovered mobile malware resides in third-party app stores, showing just how much riskier those avenues are when you’re looking for new apps.

[Source: Purplesec]

24. 98% of Mobile Malware Targets Android Devices

While iOS devices account for more than half of the North American mobile market, coming in at 53.66%, Android devices are targeted by malware far more often. In total, 98% of mobile malware is designed to infect Android devices.

[Source: Statista & Purplesec]

25. Only 24% of Americans Have Antivirus Software on Their Smartphones

While mobile malware is increasing, the vast majority of Americans aren’t taking a basic step to protect themselves. A mere 24% install antivirus software on their smartphones, meaning 76% are going without this classic form of protection against malware.

[Source: Security.org]

26. IoT Malware Attacks Rose by 66% in 2020, Totaling in at 56.9 Million

The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) created new attack vectors for cybercriminals, and the approach is growing in popularity. There were 66% more IoT malware attacks in 2020 in comparison to 2019, reaching a total of 56.9 million compared to 34.3 million the year prior.

[Source: Sonic Wall]

27. Among Companies That Use IoT Technologies, 50% Don’t Secure Devices Beyond Default Passwords

IoT devices are convenient, but they also represent significant vulnerabilities. Since that’s the case, it’s often surprising to learn that around 50% of companies using the technology don’t implement any safeguards beyond default passwords.

[Source: IoT World Today]

About the Author

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Catherine Reed

Catherine Reed is a writer and researcher with experience writing about a wide variety of topics including personal finance, technology, and staffing.