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Ransomware – what’s it all about?

May 19

In the first of a series of blog posts around IT security, Gavin Brown, Head of our IT & Support division, looks at the history of Ransomware.

Yet another ransomware story dominates the national and global headlines, Wanna Cry!  But did you ever wonder how ransomware came about – well here’s a quick history lesson!

The History

Back in the 1980s, an evolutionary biologist by the name of Joseph Popp sat back to admire his fantastically evil plan.

He had developed what would grow to become an entire criminal industry and a massive problem for modern business: Ransomware.

Popp had been rejected from a position in medical research and decided he wanted revenge on the industry. He wrote an educational program which was to be distributed out to medical practitioners.

People would enter an infected floppy disk into their own computer systems, unbeknownst to its damaging contents. The disk was designed to encrypt data from within the computer after the user had rebooted a fixed number of times. Once allowed to remain in the system for long enough – the process of encryption would begin.

Interestingly - Popp had conducted much of his research into AIDS – a disease which behaves in a very similar manner.

The Growth

Ransomware became a lucrative industry and criminals quickly latched on. Perpetrators of Ransomware can remain anonymous which, naturally, was appealing. They also can learn a lot about their victims by looking through their data.

Ransomware ransom plays on the fact that people are often in places on the internet that they would rather remained unknown.

Ransomware organisations have popped up everywhere – without anyone knowing where they are. There are even start-up kits available for budding cyber criminals who would like to deploy their very own strain!

The Threat of Ransomware

More than 50% of UK companies have been hit by Ransomware attacks in the past year alone. In a study conducted by IBM it was found that 32% of all executives surveyed had previously paid cyber-criminals for the return of data.

Why don’t we hear more about cyber-attacks?

We only hear about national and global hits, such as the Wanna variant, as SMEs typically prefer to keep attacks quiet and so the public don’t learn the true threat that Ransomware poses. As an IT Services and Support business, we hear of a constant stream of organisations coming under attack because of insufficient protection. The current outbreak of Wanna Ransomware on highly sophisticated global networks once again underlines the need to keep updated.

 

Ransomware is blackmail. To prevent blackmail you have to stop the treasure being captured in the first place.

 

Intercept X

Sophos product ‘Intercept X’ is emerging as a revolution in the fight against Ransomware. It boasts the ability to identify attacks earlier than ever before, stop them in their tracks and even reverse encryption that has begun.

Intercept X also includes a Root Cause Analysis report – it identifies where the attack originated and will display it for you. This allows the user to educate themselves and other staff on safe practice in future.

The ESG (Enterprise Strategy Group) independently assessed the products capabilities, recently stating “ESG Lab was impressed with the ability of Sophos Intercept X to provide advanced prevention, detection, and response capabilities focused on exploit techniques, and not merely the signatures of the tools used. ESG Lab found Sophos Intercept X to be simple enough for an IT generalist, while providing features and functionality advanced enough for the professional security analyst. Based on ESG Lab testing, Sophos Intercept X has made excellent progress closing many of the endpoint security gaps that still exist for organizations worldwide”.

Protect your business against Ransomware - Join our webinar!

Joining forces with our partner Sophos, we are hosting a series of online webinars during May and June to educate your business on how to protect itself from ransomware.

To reserve your place simply register  

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