Europe’s international law enforcement agency said Wednesday ransomware outpaced all other forms of cybercrime in 2017, making it the most dangerous current online threat.
"The last year has been exceptional, given the size and the type and the range of the attacks that we've seen," Europol director Rob Wainwright said as the agency unveiled its annual cybercrime report.
Wainwright cited the global cyberattack in May – dubbed “WannaCry” – that seriously hampered operations at government agencies and private companies in more than 60 countries.
He said the attack may have “taken the threat from cybercrime to another level.”
The hackers behind the attack sent a wave of crippling ransomware to hospitals across Britain, causing the hospitals to divert ambulances and cancel surgeries. The program demanded a ransom to unlock access to files stored on infected machines.
Wainwright said that while law enforcement authorities have succeeded in disrupting major online crime syndicates, “the collective response is still not good enough” and “people and companies everywhere must do more to better protect themselves.”