DigitalXRAID see significant growth in ransomware infections

DigitalXRAID, Doncaster based Cyber Security Experts have witnessed a significant growth in cases of ransomware infections within UK SME’s. This piece aims to spread awareness of ransomwares risk to local businesses and give basic, yet curtail mitigation advice. 

The latest studies suggest 54% of UK-based companies have been victim of Ransomware attacks. Two thirds of affected UK businesses had high-value data held ransom and subsequently lost revenue. 24% of affected businesses were suddenly unable to continue trading until the attack was remediated.

Ransom Software usually enters an organisation via a nefarious email attachment. The attachment is typically a Word or Excel document containing a malicious payload. These malicious emails tend to target non-technical departments to increase the chances of a successful compromise. For example, a seemingly benign email is sent to an organisations HR department. This email may contain an attached CV in the form of a Word document. All the employee needs to do is open and click Enable Content on the document. Once this has been done the ransomware can now begin to execute its task.

Ransomware begins by looking for business critical files, such as Microsoft Office documents and spreadsheets. Once these business-critical files have been found they are then encrypted. Encryption renders these files completely unreadable, therefore having the potential to cease an organisations ability to do business with customers.

Once the computer and documents have been encrypted the malware declares its ransom, informing the user of the breach. This notice will state the attackers payment details for the ransom of the decryption key. Payments are typically made through the TOR network [Dark Web] into anonymous Bitcoin accounts. Ransoms typically range from £200 – £8000 in order to recover sensitive data from one machine.

Ransomware incidents have grown exponentially through 2016. It is estimated the global damages caused by ransomware last year total 1 Billion USD. Ransomware has caused irreparable damages to UK SME’s, as smaller businesses don’t necessarily have dedicated Security departments or rudimentary policies and procedures in place to defend themselves.

Mitigations

Ensure employees are aware of Ransomware and its dangers.

Train employees to question the validity of emails and to not open suspicious unexpected attachments.

Have a robust and frequent data Backup strategy in place. Ensure backup data isn’t attached to the network. Always keep a backup offsite and offline.

Attain a recognised Security Certification Standard.

The UK Government have taken a pro-active step to ensure SME’s have a baseline standard of protection in place. This has taken form as a new standard called Cyber Essentials. Cyber Essentials shows you how to implement simple, yet crucial security measures to prevent the most common cyber-attacks. Cyber Essentials certification is required for companies in the public sector that are looking to bid for government contracts. The scheme is designed by Government to make it easy for businesses to trade with a standardised level of security. 

More Information: www.digitalxraid.com

Reference: 

Osterman Research . (2016). Understanding the Depth of the Global Ransomware Problem. 

 

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