Ransomware has gone nuclear!

15 Sep 2020


Ransomware is nothing new! It’s been around for many years and more than likely you’ll know of someone or a business who’ve been infected by it.

What has changed is the tactics used when carrying out these attacks. These have made ransomware attacks more damaging, difficult to recover from and significantly increased the pressure on victims to the cyber criminals’ demands. Cyber security experts have nicknamed this Nuclear Ransomware.

Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents you from accessing your computer by locking it or your files by encrypting them with a random key. Some ransomware will also try to spread to other machines on your network, such as the Wannacry ransomware that impacted the NHS in May 2017.

Ransomware infections are normally followed up by a demand from the cyber criminals to make a payment (often in a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin) in order to unlock your computer or access your data.

Cyber Security has often been equated to a game of cat and mouse with cyber criminals and security practitioners constantly battling to counter and subvert one another.

Previously, if you were infected with ransomware, had your files encrypted and received a ransom note you could simply restore your system from a backup, recover your files and avoid the need to pay any of the ransom.

Cyber criminals have cottoned onto this, realising that this was the reason the profits from their ill-gotten gains were tumbling and they needed to carry out their attacks in such a way that restoring from a simple backup wouldn’t undo their naughty work.

In recent months cyber criminals have begun deploying their new tactics. After gaining access to your system ready to deploy their ransomware, they first steal the most sensitive and private data they can find. Then as part of their ransom, they threaten to release the stolen data on the Dark Web unless they’re paid, resulting in a data breach.

They have combined Ransomware Attacks with Data Breaches; ransomware has gone NUCLEAR!

As with many things in Cyber Security, you can never completely 100% protect yourself against ransomware, but there are some simple practical steps you can take.

The National Cyber Security Guidance have produced a comprehensive guide on mitigating malware and ransomware attacks which highlights some of the simple steps you can take to make it as difficult as possible for Cyber Criminals to do their dirty work.

If you believe any data relating to you or your business has been stolen in a Ransomware Attack or any Data Breach, there are some simple practical steps you can take to keep yourself safe.

–          Keen an eye on your banking – Stolen financial data may be used to take money from your accounts. If you see anything suspicious, contact your bank or card company immediately.

–          Beware of phishing messages and calls – Stolen contact details can lead to unsolicited phishing emails, messages and calls trying to trick you into parting with your personal and financial details. If you receive an email you’re just not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS): reporting@phishing.gov.uk

–          Report any fraud – If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, report it to Action Fraud at Actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.