15 May 2017

International cyber attack could yet see more cases

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is warning that more cases of ransomware may yet be reported as countries around the world attempt to get to grips with the ‘WannaCry’ cyber attack on Friday that wreaked havoc for thousands of private and public sector organisations.

The cyber attack hit 150 countries, as companies faced demands to pay £230 to return control of their files and systems. It is estimated over 200,000 computers have been hit so far.

The WannaCry ransomware warned those infected that the cost would double after three days and files would be deleted within seven days if no payment is made.

In a statement, the NCSC said that more infections could become known at a ‘significant scale’ due to attacks that have yet to be detected and spread throughout networks.

A Cobra meeting chaired by the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd and the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt is to be held to discuss the cyber attack.

Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, described cyber security as a “huge issue” as he arrived in Brussels ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

He commented: “A huge amount of work goes on between the UK Government and all our friends and partners around Europe, and indeed in the United States, where they are now stepping up their precautions against cyber attacks of these kinds.”

The cyber attacks were described by Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith as a “wake up call” for the governments across the world.

Mr Smith urged users to update their systems. He said: “As cyber criminals become more sophisticated, there is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems.”

Defence Online recently featured an article with Vince Warrington, founder of Protective Intelligence, who warned of the threat of ransomware.

He said: “Most these attacks are completely random, they’re sent out to millions of email addresses at a time. They are not targeted and can go to anyone. It doesn’t matter to the criminal if it goes to a major corporation, a small business or an individual – they will most likely get their ransom paid.

“Sadly, you can no longer think it can’t happen to you. Recent stats have shown that over half of all crime in the UK is fraud or computer-based crime, which is an incredible figure.”

The message is clear, industry, government and public need to be aware of their cyber security requirements and keep up-to-date. Cyber Essentials can put you on the path to a safer digital future.

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