European police agency Europol has released a new report in which it states ransomware threat is more prevalent than any other form of online criminal activity. This is an indication of how quickly this form of online criminal activity has gained prominence in the dark belly of the online underworld.

The Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment 2016 (IOCTA) provides a view from the trenches, drawing primarily on the experiences of law enforcement within the EU Member States to highlight the threats visibly impacting on industry and private citizens within the EU, said Europol.

The report is a “law enforcement-centric threat assessment intended to inform priority setting for the EMPACT Operational Action Plans in the three sub-priority areas of cybercrime (cyberattacks, child sexual exploitation online and payment fraud),” according to Europol.

The IOCTA also seeks to inform decision-makers at strategic, policy and tactical levels on how to fight cybercrime more effectively and to better protect online society against cyber threats.

This is not the first research to demonstrate the meteoric rise of ransomware as the new online crime of choice. In a recent exclusive interview discussing their report on ransomware, Kevin Haley, Director of Product Management for Symantec Security Technology and Response told ITWatchIT that the allure for criminals is the easy money to be made from denying legitimate access to victims’ data.

Many organizations, especially those in the health sector, have fallen victim to ransomware attacks, with most of them choosing to pay the money in order to gain access to their data. For most of these organizations, security is an afterthought, especially in the heavily regulated health sector where a lot of the organizations will only do as much as is required by regulation, and no more.

In a recent chat, Craig Williams, senior technical leader at Cisco Talos told ITWatchIT that most of these organizations do not schedule regular backups of their data, which would obviously negate the need for them to pay any form of ransom to get back data which they already have.