Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting businesses with ransomware, according to a new report.

The Online Trust Alliance (OTA)’s 2016 Data Protection and Breach Readiness Guide found that there has been a surge in this type of attack.

Ransom demands have also become more market-based, representing a notable shift away from “opportunistic extortion”, the OTA explained.

“Much like surge pricing for taxis, cybercriminals now target and calculate their ransomware pricing based on company size, market value and much more,” said Craig Spiezle, executive director and president of the OTA.

“Cyber-surge pricing of corporate data is becoming widespread, increasing the impact and costs for businesses and their employees worldwide.”

The OTA also found that the majority of data breaches (91%) that took place between January and August last year could have been avoided had enterprises invested in security solutions like encryption.

As part of a new initiative, the OTA Data Protection and Breach Readiness Guide includes a series of checklists to help businesses “prevent, detect, remediate and respond to data loss incidents”.

Tips include security best practices, forensics do’s and don’ts and a cyber insurance checklist among other things.

"Improving data security is imperative for businesses as data breaches continue to expose sensitive data, or compromise an organization's back-end systems or online presence," commented Danny McPherson, senior vice president and chief security officer at Verisign.

“As the online threat landscape evolves, businesses of all sizes must continue to enhance their data security practices in order to protect themselves and their customers from falling victim to cyberattacks and ensure they respond appropriately if and when they do.”