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Ransomware here to stay says Google

binary damage codeBusinesses are being warned to protect themselves after tech giant Google released research claiming that cyber thieves have extorted a total of £19m from ransomware since 2015.

At a talk at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, Elie Bursztein from Google revealed the results of research conducted with Chainalysis, the University of California and New York University which looked at bitcoin transactions over the period. It concluded that ransomware has become a “very profitable market and is here to stay”.

Interestingly, Google highlighted the fact that less than 40% of computer users currently back up their data – a move which could protect you in the event of a ransomware attack. It also predicted that more varied strains of ransomware are being developed to compete with the already popular Locky and Cerber strains, which according to the report generated £5.9m and £5.2m from victims respectively.

Ransomware is a form of malware developed by cyber criminals and has become notorious in the past few years, with high profile attacks on companies like FedExm TNT, DLA Piper, Evraz and recently the National Health Service. Once installed, ransomware effectively locks down a user’s documents and files holding them to ransom until the user pays a specified amount of money. The money is requested in BitCoin currency which is totally anonymous and untraceable. However, even if the victim pays the fee there is no guarantee that files will be restored or that they won’t be targeted again.

While ransomware is of concern to almost every type of computer user, they are a particular danger for small businesses. This is because many small businesses will handle sensitive data from clients and customers on a daily basis and have a legal obligation to protect confidential information. A ransomware attack can therefore have a serious impact financially and in terms of reuptation, harming perception from staff, customers and the wider general public along the way.

Here at ECL we have extensive experience in protecting businesses against the latest malware, computer hacks, viruses, spam, phishing scams and other threats and can advise you on the best methods of protecting your business. We can also help businesses to update their systems to run the latest and most secure version of Windows available. For more information please, please call us on 01268 575300 or email us on info@ecl.co.uk.

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