Cyber-security researchers have discovered a 75 percent increase in ransomware attacks targeting Linux operating systems in the first half of 2022 compared to the first half of last year.

The team from Trend Micro observed the emergence of new Linux ransomware families for the first half of 2022.

“We observed how malicious actors favored ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) methods for faster deployments and bigger payouts. They also used relatively new ransomware families in high-profile attacks and increasingly targeted Linux-based systems with attacks,” the researchers noted.

Based on the data, there were 67 active RaaS and extortion groups and over 1,200 victim organizations that were reported in the first six months of this year alone.

Ransomware operators also resorted to both novel and tried-and-tested methods to attack cloud environments.

This year, they discovered a new ransomware variant, called Cheerscrypt, that also targeted ESXi servers.

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“Successful infection of these servers, which are widely used by enterprises, could cause significant security issues in critical infrastructures,” the team warned.

In the beginning of 2022, many companies around the world began calling for most, if not all, of their workforce to return to the office on a full-time basis, a phenomenon aptly referred to as “the Great Return.”

Meanwhile, some companies embraced permanent hybrid work or remote setups.

“This diffused labour pool, together with a widened digital attack surface, has made it increasingly difficult for cybersecurity teams to keep different work structures secure — a susceptibility thread that cybercriminals are quick to pull on to launch critical attacks and exploit vulnerabilities,” said Trend Micro.

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The RaaS model, which allows affiliates to buy or rent ransomware tools and infrastructures, also made waves in the first half of 2022.

“In our security predictions for this year, we foresaw that ransomware families would go after bigger targets using more advanced methods of extortion — a prediction that fits the bill of the notable ransomware families that we reported on in the first half of 2022,” the team noted.