Frightening Tales of Ransomware…make sure your Halloween isn’t too scary!

28 September 2021

Halloween is supposed to be about scary things; however, you don’t want scary things happening to your emails or website, having a huge impact on your business. One thing which is on the rise across all of ‘cyberspace’ is crime. It’s seen a massive uplift throughout the pandemic with no signs of slowing down.

Ransomware is a malicious software that gains access to your files or systems, and blocks you, the user from those files or systems. Then the files, or possibly your devices can be held hostage until you pay a ransom in exchange for a decryption key, which in turn gives you access to your own files.

Sound like fantasy? It’s not. It’s more common than you think and many smaller businesses pay up because of the agony of getting back to business when it’s been frozen due to criminal activity.

Scary stuff, when you are running a business, and the knock-on effect this would have, could lose both time and money.

Statistics show that the UK encountered around 14.6 million ransomware attack attempts up to August. These attacks rose in the first half of the year by 151 per cent on the previous period in 2020. The USA is the most attacked country and Scotland suffered significant upsurge in attacks this month. You can find out more here – https://digit.fyi/uk-ransomware-attacks-surge-dramatically-in-2021/

Scary stuff. You need to know more about ransomware!

Ransomware is one of the most significant threats facing businesses and individuals today, and the attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

The history of ransomware:

  • The first ransomware attack was in 1989, when the healthcare industry was attacked, and that industry remains a top target even today. The attack in 1989 was initiated by an AIDS researcher, Joseph Popp, PhD, who distributed 20,000 floppy disks to AIDS researchers, spanning more than 90 countries. He claimed the disks contained a problem that analysed an individuals’ risk of getting AIDS, which of course, interested people enough to look at the disc. It was called AIDS Trojan.
  • After this initial attack, this type of cybercrime remained. Uncommon until the mid 2000s, the number of attacks, internationally, have risen dramatically since 2012 and then we had the pandemic and all forms of cybercrimes rose again.
  • Four of the worst ransomware attacks have been:
  1. Ryuk – made over £500,000 in two weeks, attacking organisations that had tight deadlines. Victims included the LA Times.
  1. WannaCry – this focused on computers using Windows operating systems. It struck in May 2017, in a single day, infecting over 230,000 machines across 150 countries. The NHS was badly affected, with over a third of the NHS hospital trusts infected.
  1. Sodinokibi and Travelex – this attack began on New Year’s Eve. Hackers laid siege to the Travelex network, which allowed them to steal customers’ data, including credit card details, national insurance numbers and dates of birth. The people who made the attack called themselves, ‘Sodinokibi’, demanded £4.6m in return for the encryption key.
  1. RobbinHood – this attack took place in 2019, when the city government of the US state of Baltimore discovered its computer systems had been attacked. The attackers demanded 13 bitcoin, worth £78,600 to release the key. This caused problems for the city to the tune of £13.8m.

These stories are as scary as any told on All Hallows Eve…

If you want to ensure your business is safe, and you don’t receive an unwanted fright this Halloween, then please talk to us at Midwinter Web Design about how we can support you and minimise the risks.


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