UK Companies Commonly Held Hostage by Hackers


ESET study reveals that 84 percent of companies would be crushed if infected by ransomware and 31 percent would have no choice but to pay the hackers.

Over a third of UK companies have either personally been held to ransom by hackers or know someone that has had their networks infected by ransomware, a new study from ESET has revealed.

The study, which was carried out at Infosecurity Europe in June 2015 and examined the attitudes 200 security professionals, also revealed that 84 percent of respondents believe that their company would be seriously damaged if it was ever infected by ransomware. However, 31 percent of respondents admitted that if they were infected by ransomware they would have no choice but to pay the fine because the alternative would mean losing all the data on their computer.

Ransomware is one of the most frightening types of malware due to its destructive power. The attack involves someone’s computer screen being replaced by a message that appears to be from the police, demanding money, or a message saying your files are lost unless you pay a ransom to unlock them. Over the last year cyber criminals have developed a number of new ransomware variants which have allowed hackers to encrypt their victims’ data, which has forced more people to pay the ransom.

IT security professionals still do not understand how to properly deal with ransomware. With all ransomware infections the biggest problem is the decision on how to deal with the attack. The options are limited to either paying the ransom, which is definitely not recommended, or restoring from backup, however depending on how often the files are backed up, this can mean losing a lot of data. Any company that pays the ransom is funding criminals and as long as hackers find ransomware to be profitable, the more effort they will put into building even more sophisticated variants, which will get harder and harder to remove.

by Mark James, ESET UK

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