UK tackles hacking epidemic as Russian ransomware attacks escalate | Cybercriminality

The National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC) said it had tackled a record number of cyber incidents in the UK over the past year, with ransomware attacks originating in Russia dominating its activities.

The cybersecurity agency said it helped tackle a 7.5% increase in cases in the year through August, fueled by the wave of hackers taking control of the data from the business and demanding payment in cryptocurrency for their return.

Paul Chichester, COO, said “ransomware has certainly dominated a significant portion of the year” and the hacking epidemic has gone “global as a story in the past 12 months.”

Hackers, based in Russia or neighboring Russian-speaking territories, successfully targeted organizations such as the London Borough of Hackney and famous UK jeweler Graff last year.

In May, oil and gas supplier Colonial Pipeline in the United States suspended operations after a ransomware attack prevented it from accessing key data. He eventually paid the hackers $ 5million (£ 3.7million) to regain control of his systems.

The central government and the UK public sector do not pay cyber ransoms, although it can take months to repair the damage. The rebuilding of the affected Hackney systems cost around £ 10million, with part of the cost being borne by the central government.

However, NCSC officials said they did not have the power to prevent the payment of ransoms – often around £ 1million at a time – by companies to hackers, even if doing so guaranteed the continued criminal activity.

“We would say we would prefer people not to pay because that is what keeps the UK safe collectively,” said Lindy Cameron, director of the organization, who acknowledged that trade pressures meant that some companies thought they had no choice but to respond to hackers’ demands. for money.

UK ministers and officials have considered banning cyber ransom payments, but it is understood that it is unlikely to be implemented, in part over fears it will discourage companies from reporting attacks.

Many businesses can claim their cyber insurance, although once hackers gain access to a business system, they can apply for the insurance policy to determine how much the business is able to pay.

Last month, Britain’s leading spy agency GCHQ, the parent organization of the NCSC, revealed that the number of ransomware attacks against UK institutions had doubled in the past year. The impact on the UK economy is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of pounds, mainly due to the capital costs of businesses.

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