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Ransomware and How To Avoid It

Web Hosting Blog

It’s over two years now since the WannaCry ransomware attack brought damaging disruption to hundreds of thousands of users and organisations across the globe. It should have been a huge lesson learned for the entire online population. So howcome ransomware attacks are still on the rise?

It was Friday 12th May 2017. We now know that initial infection took place in Asia at 07:44(GMT). Less than 24 hours later, the infected code had spread to over 230,000 computers in around 150 different countries. It’s effects were huge and felt in every corner of multiple industries.

The attack hit hundreds of globally famous organisations including Dacia, Boeing, FedEx, Hitachi, Honda, Nissan, O2, several State Governments of India, and Telefónica.

Perhaps the most well known target of the attack here in the UK was the National Health Service of England and Scotland, which suffered infection spanning 70,000 devices including not just computers, but MRI machines, blood storage facilities and theatre equipment. During the events of the 12th May some NHS trusts reported that they’d had no choice but to turn away non-critical emergencies and divert some ambulance services. The event was highly publicised, and prompted a bigger conversation about why our most precious public service had such a level of cyber security that had allowed it to be breached so easily.

Ransomware is a type of malware that either threatens publication of a user’s or organisation’s data or encrypts the data or system so that it cannot be accessed, demanding payment of a ransom to decrypt the data.

Nobody has ever accurately calculated the total damages originating from the WannaCry attack, but the global economic loss has been estimated to be anywhere from hundreds of millions of dollars up to four billion dollars.

The WannaCry attack should have been the ultimate cautionary tale when it comes to securing your network and devices against cyber attacks. And yet, during 2018, security firm SonicWall detected a 44% increase in the amount of malware infecting users’ machines , and a 117% jump in ransomware attacks. Even more disturbing is the fact that a year after the WannaCry attack, a 2018 report by UK MPs concluded that all 200 NHS hospitals checked were still failing cyber security checks.

Why are these attacks so successful? There are many reasons. The most important one to not fall into is apathy. Many users and organisations would liken the chances of being a victim of a cyber attack as akin to those of being struck by lightning. It’s the “It’ll never happen to me” approach to life and business. Firstly, malware and ransomware is EVERYWHERE. In so many different forms, capable of infecting so many different devices. If you are lax in your online security precautions – either professionally or personally – the situation isn’t “If”, it’s “when”. If you are hesitant about the costs of effective security solutions, think about the costs – both monetary and reputational – that you would incur should your organisation fall foul of such an attack.

It’s not just about having extra security systems though, there are also best practises that you and all members of your organisation should follow. These include making sure your employees are well educated on the risks of unknown attachments, and having a good password policy within your organisation. Have a look at this blog we published a few weeks ago for further tips on the latter.

Here at CWCS we place tremendous value on the security of our systems and our customers systems. That’s why we’re independently audited to ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 27001:2013 standard, as well as being PCI DSS compliant and Cyber Essentials certified. We also offer a vast array of security solutions to our customers. If you would like to know more about how we can help you to secure your infrastructure to the highest standard possible, or if you have any concerns about your current security practises and would like some advice, please get in touch with us today.