The continuing threat of Ransomware

21 February 2017

Why the fastest growing malware  of 2016 is not slowing down


Ransomware remains a serious and ongoing problem for us all in 2017.

According to Eric O'Neill, a national security strategist at Carbon Black Data, instances of ransomware grew by more than 50 per cent in 2016 compared to 2015.  His data claims that ransomware was fastest-growing malware across all industries last year, with major increases seen at technology companies, energy and utility companies and banking organisations.

Ransomware first emerged in in 2005 in the United States but spread quickly around the world, along with other so-called malware. It works by either holding your entire computer hostage or by blocking access to all of your files by encrypting them. A person infected with ransomware is typically ordered (via a pop-up window) to pay anything from a few hundred to thousands of pounds in order to get the key to unlock their encrypted data.

Writing for SC Magazine, O’Neill claims that ransomware is on track to be a £800m crime in 2017, quickly evolving in sophistication. This was demonstrated just last month, when a series of attacks on MongoDB databases left roughly 27,000 servers compromised, with the attackers demanding significant financial reward in exchange for the stolen data. 

So how do we protect ourselves and our businesses? It is obviously always important to always take care when opening emails and links – never open any attachment of which you are unsure. Make sure you have the latest anti-virus software and do regular back-ups, separate from your computer, so you can always retrieve your data if you are targeted.  If you do fall victim to an attack, remember these three things:

1/ Turn off your infected computer and disconnect it from the network it is on. This is important because an infected computer can potentially take down other computers sharing the same network.

2/ Inform the police. Ransomware is a serious crime and should be reported.

3/ Don’t pay. Paying the attackers will encourage them to do it to others. There’s no guarantee that they will unlock your data if you do pay, and they could target you again.

To read the SC Magazine article in full visit:

The No More Ransom initiative was launched in 2016 by European police agency Europol, aimed at slowing the increasing rise in ransomware. Its website, which connects victims and police, gives advice and help with data recovery, as well as advice on how to avoid falling victim:



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