Limiting the ransomware threat

nCipher, Credence Security to offer data protection solutions across Sub-Saharan Africa
Simon Campbell-Young, Managing Director, Credence Security Africa.
Limiting the ransomware threat
Simon Campbell-Young, CEO of MyCyberCare.

Cybercrime resulting in the loss of funds is at an all-time high. While the latest company to be in the spotlight as a result of being hacked is Liberty, there is a growing list of businesses who have been breached.

Simon Campbell-Young, CEO of MyCybercare, points out that not only is company data constantly at risk, but big corporate breaches are increasingly putting individuals at risk. “Every time a business is hacked, all of its customers’ details are available to the cybercriminals to use or to sell. This opens the doors to identity theft as well as straightforward theft of money from a person’s bank account, in addition to many other types of fraud,” he says.

“We are seeing a massive spike in online criminal activity. Hacks and phishing attacks are becoming more targeted and more mainstream, as can be seen in the recent Liberty Life event. Since 2016, there has been a massive increase in the number of ransomware attacks, the amount of ransom demanded and the number of ransoms paid. Ransomware will continue to plague organisations as hackers constantly look for data to on-sell or re-use.”

He adds that viruses, botnets and malware are becoming more and more creative and increasingly more difficult to detect. For example, there’s a new and rising trend in ransomware called SamSam ransomware. Once limited to the healthcare sector, this more destructive form of ransomware has expanded to include other industries.

With SamSam, attackers prey on missing security patches to access a network. This type of attack does more than just encrypt files – it also attacks critical software and network backups, making them inoperable. “We’ve seen more than ten SamSam attacks so far this year and that number is expected to grow. 28% of all cyber claims are ransomware attacks, and there has been a 34% increase in the frequency of reported ransomware attacks. This is only the tip of the iceberg, and will certainly increase as cybercriminals demand – and get – higher amounts of money,” Campbell-Young says.

While there are very few details about the ransom amounts paid by companies locally, the amounts being demanded by hackers has more than tripled internationally. The highest paid ransom in the US in 2016 was $18 000; to date in 2018, the highest amount paid was over $60 000.

“Online profiling, with an intent to commit cybercrime, is driving most of the large-scale cyber hacks. These criminals are getting smarter about how they target companies and people, and as these attacks become commonplace, consumers and businesses need to increase their efforts to protect and secure their systems, as well as limit any damage in the event of an attack. With cybercrime rising exponentially, everyone needs to be protected – at home and in business,” Campbell-Young says.

He adds that while businesses and individuals are investing in security measures to protect themselves and their data, over and above prevention, mitigation and response is key. “Consider having a personal cyber insurance policy in place. This will protect a business or an individual from all sorts of threats and frauds, and will guarantee they don’t lose money in these events. These policies specifically cover ransomware, and will offer professional assistance on how to respond to an attack of this nature, and will even see that the ransom is paid, should this action be approved.”

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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