Petya and WannaCry had a larger impact in Europe and other overseas markets than in the U.S., perhaps because of the mega-hacks that have affected Home Depot Inc. ( HD) , Target Corp. ( TGT) , Anthem Inc. ( ANTM) and others in recent years.
"Because of the level of risk and number of breaches that have happened in the US, there is a broader awareness around making sure systems are up to date and patched," Steele suggested. "The bad actors probably view more vulnerability outside the U.S., but that's really just guessing."
Presumably, businesses that haven't patched Windows vulnerabilities will finally get the message. Cyber thieves are industrious, however, and will develop new means of breaking into business systems. "We see a different form of ransomware every two to three days," Steele said.
Considering the global scale of their disruption, the makers of WannaCry and Petya have collected modest sums. U.K. Bitcoin-tracking group Elliptic Enterprise Ltd. states that WannaCry generated less than $135,000 in ransom through June 28. A bot tracking payments for Petya put the total at about $10,300 on Wednesday afternoon.
Still, Proofpoint's Steele says that ransomware victims have demonstrated a willingness to pay up and given online crooks an incentive to keep producing new strains of extortion software.
"The reality is that while the broad population today feels somewhat immune and tired of hearing about this, we're going to continue to hear about this," Steele said.
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