Back in February we reported on the January ransomware attack at Lincolnshire County Council (LCC), which was foiled by the council refusing to pay and then bringing in experts to completely restore systems and data. Ransomware is malicious software (malware) that infects a device or computer, encrypts the data and then demands a fee to unlock it.
Although refusing to pay is the correct way to deal with such an attack, the council suffered severe disruption for a week. However, many businesses and organisations may not be in position to refuse a ransomware demand. This may be because they do not have the necessary backup and restore capability or they cannot endure a significant period of disruption. Despite increased awareness through media coverage, the ransomware threat is only increasing. Here we update with some important ransomware news.
An article on the BBC website reported that in conjunction with cybersecurity companies, European police agency Europol has launched an initiative aimed at slowing an “exponential” rise in ransomware. The initiative uses a website to connect victims and police, provides advice and helps with data recovery.
The website No More Ransom will be updated as ransomware gangs are tackled. The team behind the initiative includes the Dutch police, Intel Security and Kaspersky Labs. The team expects to help many people to recover control over their files, while raising awareness and educating the population on how to maintain their devices clean from malware.
IT security company LogRhythm has warned computer and IT services resellers that ransomware attacks against businesses will become more common, more damaging and more expensive. To date, cybercriminals’ ransomware strategy has usually been to sting individuals or small businesses for a few hundred pounds’ worth of Bitcoins. (The ransom demanded of LCC was $500 (£350).
In a feature article on UK IT industry website CRN (Channel Reseller News), LogRhythm says they have now set their sights on identifying and targeting specific large organisations that have deeper pockets from which to pay bigger ransom demands. This includes healthcare organisations and others for whom time is critical.
Citing research from Intermedia, the article shows 72 per cent of companies hit by an attack cannot access their data for at least two days. 32 per cent lose access for five days or more. Figures from the FBI strongly support the belief that the ransomware threat is going to grow. Ransomware extorted $209 million in Q1/2016 and the Feds estimate $1bn will be paid out to cybercriminals making ransomware demands this year.
LogRhythm sets out five steps in defending ransomware attacks:
Clearly, it is highly desirable to avoid being attacked. Preparation is the key to preventing falling victim in the first place. The key to preparing is understanding how vulnerable your organisation is to a security breach. To help with this we have developed a straightforward and concise Security Questionnaire.
It doesn’t require expert IT knowledge to complete it. Just work through it and find out whether you need to take any further action.
Click here to download the Paralogic Security Questionnaire.
You can click here to visit the No More Ransom website.
Click here for the article ‘Ransomware advice service to tackle extortion gangs’ at bbc.co.uk
Click here for the article ‘Ransomware attacks on businesses to become more common and more devastating, says report’ at channelweb.co.uk
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