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article imageMost people are ill-equipped to deal with ransomware

By Tim Sandle     May 16, 2017 in Technology
Last week’s global ransomware attack struck over 200,000 computer systems across 150 countries. It remains that most people are ill equipped to deal with ransomware, based on a new global survey.
The new survey into preparedness for a ransomware attack is based on a poll of computer users in 23 countries (24,225 Internet users). Commenting on the poll outcome, Kathy Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Internet Society (ISOC) told Digital Journal: “Law enforcement, IT professionals, consumers, business, and the public sector all have responsibility to act to keep enabling the good that the Internet brings.” Her message that a shared responsibility approach is needed in order to protect the public.
This arises because most people and companies are generally unprepared for a ransomware cyberattack. The survey revealed that 24 percent of respondents reported they have have no idea what to do if they are the victims of ransomware. As it stands law enforcement and government are rarely in a position to help.
In a sense the warning signs have long been here. Back in 2016, security firms like Kaspersky, Covenant Security Solutions, Forcepoint, GRA Quantum, nTrend Micro and Securonix predicted a dominant resurgence of ransomware attacks.
READ MORE: What you need to know about ransomware
There are two types of ransomware. These are termed: crypto ransomware and locker ransomware. With the former, crypto ransomware encrypts personal data and files so that they cannot be accessed unless a ransom is paid. With the latter, locker ransomware prevents the victim from using the computer system at all by locking components or all of the system.
The survey was conducted by Centre for International Governance Innovation, the Internet Society and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and it is called the “Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust”, and it was run by the research polling organization Ipsos. The survey took place shortly before the recent attack (final results collated during March 2017). The figures reveal that 6 percent of Internet users surveyed had been personally affected by ransomware. The countries most affected were India, Indonesia, China and the U.S.
Ransomware represents a new stage in computer viruses and an attack is relatively easy to launch. For cyber thieves the use of ransomware is not about stealing and using data more simply it is about holding the data hostage. This can be a lucrative criminal activity, with many people seemingly willing to pay to get their data back. The proportion of people willing to pay is around 40 percent. In these instances the cyber criminals do tend to unlock the data.
Rather than pay the ransom the optimal thing to do is to upload backed-up data. However, as the survey showed, over 80 percent of users have not fully backed up their data.
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