Third Of British Firms Targeted By Ransomware

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New study reveals alarming number of British firms have been held to ransom by hackers

The hacker scourge is becoming more of a problem for British companies, according to a new study.

The ESET study, which was carried out at Infosecurity Europe in June 2015, revealed that UK firms are nowadays commonly held hostage by hackers.

Ransomware Menace

The study found that over a third of UK companies have either personally been held to ransom by hackers, or know someone that has had their networks infected by ransomware.

Another concerning detail from the study is that 84 percent of the 200 security professional respondents believe their company would be seriously damaged if it was ever infected by ransomware.

Hacker, programmer, cyber crime, keyboard, computer © scyther5, Shutterstock 2014And 31 percent admitted that if they were infected by ransomware they would have no choice but to pay the ransom because the alternative would mean losing all their data.

“Ransomware is one of the most frightening types of malware due to its destructive power,” said Mark James, security specialist at ESET. “The results from our study are very concerning as it seems that IT security professionals still do not understand how to properly deal with ransomware.”

“With all ransomware infections the biggest problem we face is the decision on how we deal with the attack,” said James. “Our options are limited to either paying the ransom, which is definitely not recommended, or we can restore from backup, however depending on how often you back up your files, this can mean losing a lot of data.”

Ransomware is a particularly nasty piece of malware. Once a PC or smartphone is infected, the unfortunate victim is contacted by the blackmailer or hacker responsible. The criminals will often demand money in order to unlock the victim’s device. Some ransomware variants also encrypt their victims’ data.

“If you do manage to get yourself infected and all your files are encrypted then you only have one option, you have to restore from backup,” said James. “With the massive amount of backup solutions available these days it really is very inexpensive to do and frequent backups can literally save your business. Any company that pays the ransom is funding criminals, and as long as hackers find ransomware to be profitable, the more effort they will put into building even more sophisticated variants, which will get harder and harder to remove.”

Ongoing Threat

Earlier this month, a security researcher at Check Point was successfully able to barter with a Russian hacker responsible for the ‘Troldesh’ ransomware. She eventually managed to halve the initial fee demanded for the decryption of her computer

Ransomware is an ongoing problem for the security industry and end users around the world.

Last month, Symantec revealed ransomware themed around the TV show ‘Breaking Bad’. That malware affected computers across Australia, and encrypted images, videos, documents, and more on the compromised computer. It demanded up to AU$1,000 (£510 / $791) to decrypt those files.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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