The Hague (AFP) - Global ransomware attacks are on the decline, but such malicious cyber strikes are getting bolder and homing in on more profitable companies, with data encryption a key target, Europe's police agency said Wednesday,.
Europol said it was also concerned by the rise of so-called "self-generated explicit material" produced by underaged children who then share sexual images and videos with peers through smartphones, making themselves vulnerable to sexual offenders.
Police and the private sector "confirm a diminishing number of ransomware attacks targeting individual citizens" but such attacks are "becoming more bold", the agency said as it released its latest annual report on internet organised crime.
Ransomware is a type of software, used by cybercriminals to extort money from internet users.
One of the most visible ransomware attacks happened in March last year when SamSam malware paralysed the southeastern US city of Atlanta for six days.
Although the attackers asked for a ransom of roughly $50,000 (45.000 euros) it cost the City of Atlanta more than $2.6 million to respond to the attack, according to science and technology publication Wired Magazine.
The US Justice Department later charged two Iranian hackers for deploying the ransomware into the systems of more than 200 institutions across the US and Canada, encrypting their operations and making them inaccessible until the owners paid ransoms in bitcoin.