Octree Observer

Ransomware – the threat inside

  • When it comes to ransomware, it only takes one person to let the marauders run free

    That's the assessment of cybersecurity company Malwarebytes, which has found as many as one third of small-to-medium-sized businesses were hit by ransomware last year, and that "the human factor" is increasingly behind large-scale outages.

    The findings come as part of Malwarebytes' Second Annual State of Ransomware Report, which showed that, of the 32 percent of companies hit by at least one malware attack last year, one fifth had to completely stop operations immediately. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 (unless you're coughing it up in Bitcoin).

    The figures paint a grim picture of digital security in the modern era, at a time when malware attacks routinely make news headlines, and ransomware (malicious software that infects systems and demands a ransom to regain access to encrypted files) has the power to bring everything from home computers to the world's biggest companies into the digital dark ages.

    According to Malwarebytes Senior Systems Engineer Brett Callaghan, ransomware is a massive cybersecurity problem, but it often comes down to poor human behaviour, rather than poor security software. "People [behind the ransomware attacks] are going to exploit more of the human factor now," he said.

    "A lot more attackers are becoming aware of the fact that they can make small amounts of money at a grand scale very quickly if they completely automate this. The attackers we're seeing are extremely sophisticated -- they're not fussed about creating a file and making something look real.

    "They'll just go after the user and they'll spray and pray. If you hit 100,000 email accounts and 10,000 hit the button and you're charging $200 a piece? That's a significant amount of income right there from doing very little."

    If in doubt, do not click -- lest you be the one that knocks everything offline.

    For informed advice about how to deal with ransomware and other cyber threats speak to Octree.

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