Experts warn of rise of hacker ransoms

15 March 2017

Everyday items could become a target


Smartphones, watches, televisions and even fitness trackers could be used to hold people to ransom over personal data.

The National Crime Agency and National Cyber Security Centre believe devices holding photos, emails and fitness information could easily be targeted.

In a joint report, aimed at businesses, they say Ransomware, which makes devices unusable until their owners pay to unlock them, has become increasingly prevalent in the past year.

They believe the risk to business is "significant and growing" and that cyber-crime is becoming more aggressive, with more devices connecting to the internet meaning more opportunities for criminals.

Any devices containing personal data such as photos, that people consider sufficiently valuable to pay for, are likely to be targeted. Many such devices often have limited security built in.  

The report also raises concerns about the ability of the most sophisticated criminal gangs to use the same high-tech tools as states to target financial institutions.

Others can download more basic software to carry out attacks on smaller businesses and on the general public, which require very little technical ability.

Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the NCSC, said cyber-attacks would continue to evolve and the public and private sectors must continue to work at pace to reduce the threat to critical services and deter would-be attackers.

The report also reveals there is no clear understanding of the true scale and cost of current cyber- attacks to the UK, as they believe they are under-reported.





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