Malware is a growing threat to individuals and organizations alike, with cybercriminals constantly developing new and more sophisticated ways to infiltrate systems and steal sensitive information.
To help you stay informed and protected, we’ve compiled a guide to the latest malware statistics in 2023.
From the most common types of malware to the industries most at risk, this guide will provide you with the insights you need to understand the current state of malware and take steps to safeguard your digital assets.
Key Malware Statistics 2023
- 60% of all small businesses that fell victim to data breaches had to permanently close.
- Employees account for 51% of all data breaches in companies.
- 90% of malware is delivered to businesses by email.
- Cybercriminals can infiltrate 93% of organizations’ networks.
- 91% of small businesses didn’t purchase cyber liability insurance even though their risk is so high.
- The main focus of hackers is to target a business’ customer/client database rather than the employees.
- In 2018, new breaches of small businesses increased by 425%.
- In 2020, total malware events rose by 358%.
- The most mimicked brand for carrying out phishing malware attacks via email is Facebook.
- In the first quarter of 2022, there was an increase of 4.76% in malware events compared to the last quarter of 2021.
Small Business Malware Statistics in 2023
Small businesses tend to get targeted the most related to how many get hit with some form of malware.
Large organizations like those in the medical and insurance industries, account for some of the largest data grabs, but experience fewer cyberattacks compared to the nation’s small businesses.
America’s small businesses are the backbone of the country’s economy. Large organizations may contribute to America’s economy.
However, it’s the small businesses that are at the heart of the business realm.
Malware predators know that taking down small businesses does the most harm to the American economy.
Therefore, we will provide malware statistics as they pertain to small businesses in this section.
We started with this because of the major impact it has on the nation.
1. 43% of Small Businesses Are the Target of Cyberattacks.
As mentioned in the section introduction, small businesses are often the target of cyber criminals.
These small businesses are vulnerable, as one study revealed, since 47% of small businesses that employ fewer than 50 people don’t have a budget dedicated to cybersecurity.
Some reasons small businesses are attacked is that they don’t expect to fall victim to cyber crimes, they have little to no budget for cybersecurity, their networks and systems are often unsupported and outdated, and any specific software needed to update is no longer supported.
They believe they are too small to be impacted by such a crime.
2. 60% of All Small Businesses that Fell Victim to Data Breaches Had to Permanently Close.
Data breaches caused 60% of small businesses to close within six months after the attack, according to malware infection statistics.
The biggest reason for this is the high costs that come with malware attacks.
This means that not only can small businesses not afford to update their cyber security measures, they also incur costs that overwhelm their funds when they are attacked.
A meager 18% of small businesses employing 250 people have a budget for cybersecurity.
3. Employees Account for 51% of All Data Breaches in A Company.
Employees are the biggest threat to cybersecurity within a company.
That’s due to the lack of education and training on cybersecurity and how to handle certain emails, etc. However, employees are only part of the problem.
Contractors and consultants cause 57% of data breaches.
Privileged users make up a whopping 60% of those who pose the biggest risk of malware and data breaches.
Besides the lack of training, there are other reasons for the rise in data breaches. One is that there are more devices that have access to sensitive data.
4. 66% of All Small Businesses in America Have Issues with Malware Each Day.
At 66%, that’s around two-thirds of America’s small businesses trying to manage malware every day.
Even though not all of these malware attacks create major problems, some of them cause more harm than others.
Since many of these businesses cannot afford dedicated budgets for cybersecurity, we can only imagine where this will take us in the future.
Perhaps specialized measures to help American small business owners will be provided.
5. 90% of Malware Is Delivered to Businesses by Email.
Malware is commonly sent via email.
Statistics report that 92% of all malware that was sent to small businesses was delivered through email.
The most-used disguises for malware sent to small businesses include:
- Bills or Invoices: 7%
- Package Delivery: 4%
- Email Failure Notice: 3%
- Scanned Document: 0.3%
- Law Enforcement or Legal Messages: 1.1%
This is one of the reasons that more training to recognize email malware is needed.
6. 70% of Small Businesses Aren’t Prepared to Handle Cyber Attacks.
Nearly 3 out of every 4 small businesses aren’t prepared for cyber attacks, that represents 70% to 73% of all small businesses unprepared for cyber crimes.
These businesses don’t have reliable malware protection installed on their systems.
By not having a solid security protocol strategy in place, small businesses have no idea of what to do if they experience a data breach, or any malware attack.
7. In 2019, Research Showed that 83% of Small-To-Medium Sized Businesses Didn’t Have the Money to Recover from The Repercussions of Cyber Attacks.
As was mentioned above, at least 60% of small businesses close their doors due to malware attack costs.
This relates to data from 2019, where 83% of small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) lack the finances to stay afloat after just one attack. It’s that harmful and serious.
Of the 17% of SMBs that claim to have set back funds in case of data breach, malware, or other cyber attacks, few of them considered the legal costs or the impact on their reputation from these crimes.
8. Cybercriminals Can Infiltrate 93% of Organizations’ Networks.
Research conducted by betnews tells us that cyber criminals can consistently infiltrate 93% of companies’ networks.
What does that also tell us?
It speaks volumes regarding how vulnerable our networks are all over the world.
Since small businesses get much of the brunt of malware, that means they are highly susceptible to malware, but also other types of cyber crimes like data breaches.
One of the problems is that businesses have no segmentation of their networks, making it easier for cyber criminals to simultaneously attack multiple vectors.
9. 91% of Small Businesses Didn’t Purchase Cyber Liability Insurance Even Though Their Risk Is so High.
Even with all these statistics so widely available to them, 91% of small businesses haven’t taken the opportunity to address getting cyber liability insurance coverage.
It might help them, and the economy if they would look into it before dismissing the idea. It’s likely that many of these SMBs are unaware of that coverage.
Imagine how many small businesses could save themselves in case of a cyber attack. Is it less expensive to buy insurance than to pay for the recovery?
10. A Small Business Poll Revealed that 88% of Small Business Owners Feel Their Businesses Are Vulnerable to Cyberattacks.
In a recent poll, small business owners admitted that they think their business is susceptible to cyberattacks.
Even so, most of them also said they couldn’t afford the IT services needed to combat the problem.
Also, they admitted they didn’t know where to start and that they didn’t have time to focus on cybersecurity measures.
This leaves them even more vulnerable than is necessary.
(Insurance Business Magazine)
11. There Are 9 Common Cyber Attacks Perpetrated on Small Businesses.
According to LinkedIn Pulse, there are 9 kinds of cyber attacks small businesses should be aware of before choosing not to purchase cyber security programs or cyber attack insurance.
There are others, but these are the most common.
- Social Engineering/Phishing
- Angler Phishing
- DDoS (Denial of Service)
- MitM (Man in the Middle)
- SQL Injections
12. The Main Focus of Hackers Is to Target a Business’ Customer/client Database Rather than The Employees.
The main focus of business owners should be to protect their customers and clientele.
Why? Because when hackers infiltrate a small business system, they target mostly the customer’s information. Only 8% of employees are the main target of hackers.
Therefore, businesses are most concerned about their customer records (66%).
Other concerns of business owners due to malware attacks include, intellectual property (49%), customer debit or credit card information (46%), financial information (26%), employee records (8%), business correspondence (5%), and other (1%).
(Small Biz Trends, ZDNet)
13. The Average Cost of A Single Data Breach in A Small Business Is $2.98 Million.
That figure is per incident, not per month or per year. Now we can understand why malware attacks take small businesses down.
Keep in mind, this figure varies according to business size. Still, that’s a very hefty consequence. It might be cheaper to invest in cybersecurity and/or insurance related to cybersecurity.
As you already know, cyber attacks are costly in ways beyond money.
With 60% of small businesses going out of business within six months after a cyber attack, there is more to the story.
Besides recovery costs, there are also costs such as the loss of productivity, damage to their reputation, downtime, legal costs, business loss, penalties, and several other non-monetary costs.
14. In 2018, New Breaches of Small Businesses Increased by 425%.
According to statistics, 2018 saw a massive 425% rise in new breaches in small businesses, from the prior year.
That is a huge increase, and a scary figure to imagine.
Since small businesses tend to be a main focus for hackers, the rise in new breaches and malware is not going to see much improvement going forward.
The latest reports show that in 2021, 925 cyber attacks occurred all over the world. This is a 50% overall increase in these attacks year-over-year.
15. 40% of SMBs That Experienced a Malware Attack Suffered 8-Plus Hours of Downtime.
Over 8 hours of downtime was lost for 40% of SMBs that suffered a cyber attack.
While you may not think this is significant, system downtime causes significant problems with profitability and productivity.
Another 41% of small businesses impacted by a cyber attack lost between 1 and 8 hours of downtime.
Also, 19% of the same group of small businesses lost an hour of downtime. Let’s just say that downtime is a big deal in business.
(Firewall Times, Cisco)
Malware’s Effect on the Public
We are sure that our readers who don’t own businesses want to know how malware impacts the public.
Therefore, we have done some research to dig up statistics related to the public.
Since hackers are most interested in obtaining the information about customers, that relates directly to the individuals, and the public.
They will target whomever they please. Because, let’s face it, these people are criminals.
Let’s discuss the statistics that impact the public.
16. There Were Over 3.2 Billion Malware Attacks Registered by SonicWall in The First Six Months of 2020 that Impacted Companies and Individuals.
In 2020, SonicWall had registered and recorded over 3.2 billion malware events just in the first half of the year.
People, as well as companies, are continually targeted by malware.
There were 10 billion such attacks registered by companies that watch for malware attacks and cybersecurity all over the world.
The figures for 2020 haven’t been released yet, but it’s believed that these kinds of attacks are on the decline.
Of course, that could be due to the pandemic. So, we await more information on that.
17. In 2020, the Total Malware Events Rose by 358%.
Even when the statistics relate to the world and businesses, it still also has a big impact on individuals.
Total malware attacks in 2020 rose by 358% over the previous year. Likewise, ransomware attacks rose by 435%.
The pandemic forced many companies to move their workers online, which created a massive trend among cyber criminals to take advantage of whatever vulnerabilities they could find.
It’s not just the volume of these malware attacks. It’s also the sophisticated and invasive technologies being used.
It’s made it harder for even the most advanced antivirus and malware software to detect.
(Help Net Security)
18. The Average Cost of Ransomware Attacks in America Came to $133,000 per 100 People.
The effects of cyber crimes impact everyone. When a business is attacked, it costs them and the public.
Ransomware often starts as malware, but with a twist. Once activated, the program steals files and holds them for ransom.
So, companies pay the ransom to regain their files. Then, the costs trickle down to the American people.
So, if you think that cybercrimes against a business, government, entity, or individual are victimless, you should consider the costs we mention in this article. It costs everyone.
19. In 2018, Atlanta Experienced a Ransomware Attack that Has Cost the City Over $5 Million to Rebuild the Targeted Systems.
The original ransom demand from the ransomware attack in Atlanta, Georgia, in March 2018 was for roughly $51,000 (Bitcoin).
About 6 million people were impacted by this ransomware.
Government computers were powered down for 5 days after the attack. Basically, the city was shut down.
During this time, Atlanta residents had to pay their bills by check, money order, or cash.
Police dashcam footage and some legal documents were permanently probably purposely deleted in the attack.
Initially, it was believed that little to no personal information was compromised, but studies have now shown that this attack was much worse than initially estimated.
20. In 2019, Ransomware Attacks Cost the US More than $7.5 Billion.
This figure comes from incidents where files were held for ransom in the United States in 2019.
One auditor said that this kind of attack shows a blatant disregard for keeping up and maintaining cybersecurity at the governmental level.
It was also said that America’s local governments are doing “a poor job of practicing cybersecurity”.
(MIT Technology Review)
21. In 2017, 75% of The Businesses Surveyed Were Running Updated Endpoint Cybersecurity Protection when They Were Hit with Ransomware.
How prepared are businesses, government agencies, and individuals?
If you look at this figure of 75% of businesses attacked with ransomware were running up-to-date security protection, we have to say, none of us is.
What does this mean? It means that at first, even updated antivirus protection isn’t enough to protect you against ransomware.
While there may be no way to be 100% protected, surely technology should be able to keep up with cybercriminals.
22. The Costliest Cyber Attack yet Was Called Not Petya, Costing Over $10 Billion in Damages in 2017.
While NotPetya mainly targeted Ukraine, it infected computers all over the world.
The message from the attack appeared on the computer screen as “Oooops, your important files are encrypted.”
Until each user paid $300 in Bitcoin as a ransom, they couldn’t access their files.
Even users who tried to circumvent the program by restarting their PCs still got the same message upon reboot, which brought them back to the black screen.
23. Since 2020, 81% of Global Organizations Have Seen a Rise in Phishing Emails.
Ironscales released findings about phishing emails, which are one way that malware infects a computer, that said 81% of the world’s organizations have experienced more phishing attacks since March 2020.
Phishing, which contains some form of malware (malicious software), is not only delivered via email.
It can also be sent via workplace or personal messaging, SMS, and cloud-based file-sharing sites.
(Expert Insights, Ironscales)
24. Malware Is Expected to Increase in 2022 and Beyond.
While some forms of malware are on the decline, like ransomware, phishing and similar malware attacks are expected to increase.
In 2020, malware was on the decline for the first time in about 5 years.
SonicWall’s 2022 Cyber Threat Report says this is a temporary decline because now, malware events are at 10.4 million annually, which is where the figures were in 2018.
So, don’t expect malware to just go away.
(Comparitech, 2022 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report)
Worldwide Malware Statistics
Malware doesn’t just single out certain countries like America or Ukraine. These attacks can happen at anywhere, any time, to anyone.
Malware is often sent via email to business and government emails, but also personal emails.
Technically, no one is 100% safe from experiencing a malware attack.
However, knowledge and training is power when it comes to weeding out which emails are okay and which ones aren’t.
Let’s discuss global statistics in this section.
25. Worldwide Malware Detections of New Malware Programs Rose from 2015 to 2020.
The total number of 2022. New malware detections across the globe came to 677.66 million as of March 2020.
In 2015, there were 28.84 million detected new malware programs.
The largest boost in malware detection occurred between 2017 and 2018, when 265.76 million detections were reported in 2017 compared to 437.14 million in 2018.
In the first quarter of 2020, there was a rise of 16.5 million in new malware detections. It went from 661.16 in January 2020 to 677.666 in March 2020.
26. The Annual Number of Malware Attacks Globally Is 5.4 Billion.
One of the reasons the number of malware attacks is so high is because of their nature.
Malware is malicious software disguised as a harmless-looking link to a known website, or file that is recognized as a Word doc or other popular document programs.
The idea is to trick the receiver into clicking on the link or file, so it can hack, hijack, penetrate, and otherwise invade a computer or network.
While the main malware attacks, as suggested by statistics, target professional markets, it also aims at government agencies and even individuals.
(Statista Research Department)
27. There Are Seven Countries with Spear-Phishing Groups that Send out Malware Across the Globe.
While anyone in any country can be a hacker, the top seven countries with spear-phishing groups include, Japan (69), China (44), Turkey (43), Saudi Arabia (42), South Korea (40), Taiwan (37), and United Arab Emirates (30).
The fact that spear-phishing groups have grown from 116 to 250 between 2016 and 2018 says a lot about the malware problem.
Spear-phishing is a phishing tactic that aims at specific groups or people in an organization. Spear-phishing is intentionally targeted malware.
(PurpleSec, Trend Micro)
28. The Most Mimicked Brand for Carrying out Phishing Malware Attacks via Email Is Facebook.
Phishers, people who perpetrate malware via email phishing, have a favorite brand to impersonate, which is Facebook.
Statistics show that besides Facebook, Google and Microsoft are also favorites.
Facebook accounts for 14% of all phishing pages, with Microsoft right behind it at 13%.
Other recognizable brands used in malware emails include Amazon, WhatsApp, Apple, Netflix, and PayPal.
As you read this, you may realize that you have gotten a phishing email mimicking one of these brands.
29. In The First Quarter of 2022, There Was an Increase of 4.76% in Malware Events Compared to The Last Quarter of 2021.
Of the malware activity increases, there have been 1,642 variants discovered.
Not only has there been an increase of malware activity in 2022, there have also been rises in exploitation and botnet events.
This data comes from Nuspire and is specifically related to Nuspire monitored and managed devices.
Therefore, this is merely a sampling of all instances of malware, botnet, and exploitation events in 2022.
30. According to the CyberEdge Group 2022 Cyberthreat Defense Report, CDR, 91.8% of organizations in Spain suffered successful cyber attacks.
More than 9 out of 10 Spanish businesses experienced a successful cyber attack.
Spain ranked third among the compromised organizations according to the country.
At the top of the list is Columbia, at 93.9% and second is Turkey, at 93.7%.
The United States is tenth on the list with 86.8%. Of the top 18, Australia has the lowest instance at 62.3%.
A Brief Malware Timeline and History
Malware history shows us that the roots of today’s computer viruses go back to 1949, when John von Neumann presented his paper, “Theory and Organization of Complicated Automata.”
This paper claimed that any computer program could reproduce.
The earliest recorded viruses occurred in the 1970s, and was a self-replicating program created by Bob Thomas of BNN Technologies.
It was an experimental virus, and the first of its kind. It’s been named “Creeper Worm”.
Since the “Creeper” experiment, there have been more malware infections than we can put in one article.
However, we will list a few of the most infamous ones here.
- 1986: The PC-Write Trojan was one of the earliest Trojans that erased all of the user’s files.
- 1988: Morris Worm infected a large percentage of ARPANET computers.
- 1991: Michelangelo Virus was designed to erase hard drive data and was unleashed on Michelangelo’s birthday, March 6.
- 1999: Melissa Virus was the first known mass-email virus.
- 2000: ILOVEYOU Worm impacted roughly 50 million computers of governmental bodies and corporations.
- 2005: Koobface Virus one of the first PC viruses used to propagate social sites.
- 2013: Cryptolocker was an early ransomware program that significantly affected the globe.
- 2017: WannaCry Ransomware had a wildly major impact on the computer networks of the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China.
This is a very short list of all the malware infections that have been and continue to threaten Internet-connected networks and devices all over the world.
Today, we have more devices for malware to infect. It can affect your smartphone, tablet, PC, laptop, and any device that connects to the Internet.
What Are Some Ways to Protect Yourself from Malware?
The key to protecting yourself from malware attacks is prevention.
You do need a reputable antivirus software installed on your computers and mobile devices.
Keep your virus protection updated.
Only buy applications from trusted sources.
Avoid clicking on attachments or links when you are unsure of the sender.
Install a firewall. Regularly backup your data.
You can find reputable and reliable malware protection programs compatible with your system and virus protection.
Can You Find out If a Link Is Suspicious without Clicking It?
You can definitely learn to recognize and check an email or any link that may seem suspicious without clicking it.
First, you can use Google Safe Browsing to check a URL.
You will type: http://google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=[the site you need to check] into your address bar.
You can find out if it has hosted any malware over the past 90 days.
You can also scan a URL through your virus/malware program installed on your computer.
There are other sites offered by Norton and other companies where you can type in the site you want to check and find out if the link is malicious or not.
What Does Malware Look Like in An Email?
When malware is sent to an email, it will come in the form of what appears to be legitimate sources and known brands.
Most of them will be sent as package delivery notices (UPS, FedEX, USPS etc), court notices, invoices, faxes or scans, PayPal, Word docs or Excel xls, or bank notices.
If you don’t do business with the bank, you can be sure that it’s probably a phishing email.
Don’t click that link. Also, even the most recognizable brands like PayPal or USPS will not match the real URL of the company.
How Many Computers Are Infected with Malware in The World?
Studies about malware reveal that more than 30% of the world’s computers are infected with or contain unwanted applications running on them.
The threat is real all over the world.
Some of these programs don’t rear their ugly heads until a specific time or after a specific action by the user.
Why Do People Send Malware to Businesses, Government Agencies, and People?
The most common reason for sending malicious software to anyone or any entity is to get personal identity information for identity theft purposes.
Other reasons include stealing your credit card information or other financial data, gaining control of multiple computers to launch DDoS attack software on other networks, or for infecting computers to use them for mining cryptocurrency or bitcoin.
What Are the Most Common Signs of Phishing Emails?
Here is a little basic training to help you combat malware from invading your computer or system. The greeting will be odd.
There will be something that’s not quite right about the greeting. It may be more formal than usual.
There are often spelling and grammar mistakes.
There will be discrepancies in the email address, link, and the domain name.
It will make it seem like an urgent matter (act now, immediate action required, etc.) or a threat (last warning, account suspension pending your account has been limited, etc.).
They send attachments, so if you’re not expecting one, or you get one from a source you don’t recognize, leave it alone.
They may contain strange requests. The best thing you can do if you see something suspicious in your email is to report it immediately.
The malware statistics for 2023 presented in this guide paint a sobering picture of the ongoing threat posed by malware.
From the alarming rise of ransomware attacks to the continued prevalence of phishing scams, it’s clear that cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated and aggressive in their tactics.
However, by staying informed and taking proactive measures to protect your systems and data, you can reduce your risk of falling victim to these threats.
By following the best practices outlined in this guide, you can help ensure that your digital assets remain secure and protected.