The growing threat of Ransomware

The Guardian newspaper recently published a piece on the threat of ransomware to the UK public, which quoted the head of the GCHQ’s cyber security arm warning that ransomware represents the biggest threat for most people, as well as businesses across the UK.


What is ransomware? Below is the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) guidance:


Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents you from accessing your computer (or the data that is stored on it). The computer itself may become locked, or the data on it might be stolen, deleted, or encrypted. Some ransomware will also try to spread to other machines on the network, such as the Wannacry malware that impacted the NHS in May 2017.


Usually, you're asked to contact the attacker via an anonymous email address or follow instructions on an anonymous web page, to make payment. The payment is invariably demanded in a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, in order to unlock your computer, or access your data. However, even if you pay the ransom, there is no guarantee that you will get access to your computer, or your files. Occasionally malware is presented as ransomware, but after the ransom is paid the files are not decrypted. This is known as wiper malware. For these reasons, it's essential that you always have a recent offline backup of your most important files and data.


Should I pay the ransom?


Law enforcement do not encourage, endorse, nor condone the payment of ransom demands. If you do pay the ransom:

· there is no guarantee that you will get access to your data or computer

· your computer will still be infected

· you will be paying criminal groups

· you're more likely to be targeted in the future.


Attackers will also threaten to publish data if payment is not made, meaning victims have the further worry about sensitive data being exposed. So even if you have recent back-ups there is still the threat of your stolen data being leaked.

Ransomware incidents have surged across the globe within the last two years, with many cyber-criminal gangs operating across countries which often turn a blind eye to their activities.


Criminals will often tailor their demands dependant on the victim, so no business is off limits. There have been examples of small firms – such as hairdressers - being targeted with ransoms of £1,500 - as well the multi-million-pound threats to larger organisations, as often reported in the press.


To read more about the rise of ransomware visit the NCSC site at: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/blog-post/rise-of-ransomware


Be aware that any type of organisation should be taking the necessary measures to prevent cyber-attack.


For further information on cyber security measures for your business speak to the NEBRC on enquiries@nebrcentre.co.uk


The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) are working together to support the establishment of Regional Cyber Resilience Centres (CRCs). The CRCs represent a significant opportunity for the NCSC to expand the reach of its guidance and services to smaller organisations across the country, and provide an extra level of practical support to enhance their impact. The NCSC is currently assisting the NPCC in determining the suite of cyber security services that the CRCs will be able to offer.