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UK climbs up the ransomware target league

There are a number of reasons that British SMEs are failing to prioritise investment in their cyber security defences.

Experts find UK parliament 'falling apart'
Houses of Parliament in London. - © POOL/AFP/File Ross Giblin
Houses of Parliament in London. - © POOL/AFP/File Ross Giblin

A new assessment infers that the UK is experiencing a growing issue around cybersecurity, according to Oliver Pinson-Roxburgh, CEO of Defense.com™. For example, there has been a marked rise in business critical cyberattacks such as ransomware in the past 12 months.

Pinson-Roxburgh  summarizes the research findings, explaining to Digital Journal: “Our data shows a large volume of opportunistic attacks originate from servers in the US that have been compromised and are looking to propagate by targeting anything that has a presence on the internet.”

There is one of cybersecurity issue that Pinson-Roxburgh finds the most troublesome, as he explains: “Ransomware is a threat to all nations and is just one tool in the hacker’s arsenal. Given that the US-CERT has openly documented its concerns online that the U.S. Water and Wastewater Systems (WWS) Sector facilities are being targeted by both known and unknown actors, the threat to the US is real.”

However, how at risk any given firm is depends upon the nature of the business and quantity of data available (with personally identifiable data being the most sought after).

As Pinson-Roxburgh explains: “The threat that ransomware poses specifically really comes down to the targeted and desired outcome of the hacker’s campaign.”

The findings suggest that British subject matter experts are not taking cyber security seriously, although this often not a direct fault of those involved with the industry but rather a failure to appropriately realign business strategy across all potentially impacted business units.

The speed of the attack is also dependent upon the value of the data and this further pushes the means of attack in favour of ransomware, as Pinson-Roxburgh notes:  “If they are in it to make some quick money or disrupt the nation, then ransomware is likely going to be what they use. If the attacker is more targeted and/or is targeting the supply chain to gain access to an upstream target that is hard to gain access to directly, then the tools used are likely going to be stealthier and not ransomware.”

This leads the security expert to surmize: “There is no doubt that ransomware is an effective way to make money given the recent press. The question is how many businesses does it take to amass that fortune?”

In answering this rhetorical question, Pinson-Roxburgh adds: “It really depends on the success of the campaign. The frustrating fact for me being in the industry for over 18 years is the disappointing lack of effective security controls still in place in such a high number of businesses that makes these hacks so lucrative.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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