Victims of ransomware attacks have been urged to come out and report incidents to prevent other companies from being hit by what is described as the biggest threat to cybersecurity around them.
Ransomware attacks have long been an important issue for cybersecurity, disrupting critical infrastructure, healthcare, business and services around the world. And the potential for disruption is so great that a UK government minister has described it as a threat to national security.
“The biggest cyber threat to the UK – one that is now considered serious enough to pose a threat to national security – is from ransom software attacks,” said Steve Barkley, lead cybersecurity minister at the National CyberUK conference. Cybersecurity Center (NCSC) in Newport, Wales.
Barkley said the National Crime Agency (NCA) receives an average of one report on a victim of a Russian-based group responsible for ransomware attacks. No details were given on which ransom gangs were reported, but many of the most notorious cybercrime groups are thought to be operating outside Russia.
Ransomware attacks remain a cybersecurity issue because they are effective because, despite warnings not to do so, a significant percentage of victims choose to pay a ransom to retrieve their encrypted files.
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It is estimated that ransom attacks cost the United Kingdom £ 615 million in 2020 alone – and warns that the ransom price has risen significantly since then – Barclay cites figures suggesting an average ransom demand of 2, $ 2 million.
But even those teary-eyed amounts can only scratch the surface of the true cost of ransomware attacks – since victims don’t reveal them, something he said needs to change.
“The number of accidents – and in fact their economic cost to the UK – is likely to be much higher. “Law enforcement teams believe most of the attacks go unreported: perhaps because of embarrassment or a reluctance to admit that the money has indeed changed hands,” Barclay said.
“So I would encourage any organization that has been attacked to come forward,” he continued, adding, “In this way, you will help us strengthen our individual and collective resilience as we learn from each other.”
The idea is that by reporting incidents, cybersecurity agencies can learn more about them, and then use this information to help other organizations avoid being attacked, as well as advise businesses on best practices what to do if they become the victim of an accident.
Some of the NCSC’s advice on protecting against ransomware attacks and other malicious cyber incidents includes providing users with multi-factor authentication, applying security patches, and regularly testing network cybersecurity. Barkley said the government is following that advice as well.
“The government is also testing its own defense. “The fuller our security picture, the better we would cope with any attack,” he said.
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