Ransomware attacks will continue in 2017

MANAMA: Because data is the new oil in the digital economy, ransomware attacks that restrict access to important data until the attacker is paid are becoming increasingly common, says Sebastien Pavie, Enterprise and Cybersecurity Director for Middle-East, Africa and Turkey at Gemalto.

A major has been reported sweeping across the globe and striking many organisations in Europe and the US. The source of the malicious software “Petya” is not yet known and the virus spreads rapidly through networks that use Microsoft Windows, freezes users’ computers and demands a ransom be paid in the digital Bitcoin currency. This is the second major global ransomware attack in the past two months, following WannaCry in early May.

“As per the Gemalto 2016 Breach Level Index, 2016 is considered the year of ransomware as these attacks moved mainstream and we expect to see this trend continue this year as well. Many companies, including healthcare and utilities providers were willing to pay ransoms to avoid losing data or having systems shut down, showing that this type of attack is having an impact on businesses.

“However, neither businesses nor individuals should pay ransoms to unlock any files that have been affected by a ransomware attack, as this incentivises and rewards these kinds of attacks. In order to prevent becoming a victim of a ransomware attack, data should be backed-up and encrypted, and stored away from the network the rest of the data is stored on. This means that, in the event that a ransomware attack lock someone out of their files, they will have secure copies available. By doing this, the victim would be able to return to business-as-usual quickly and efficiently.”

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