Ransomware attacks will ‘keep happening’

Cyber attack
Cyber attack

Cyber criminals will continue to use Ransomware attacks as long as businesses continue to under prioritise cyber security, an expert has warned.

Robert O’Brien, CEO of MetaCompliance, a global Information Security and Compliance software provider, says many businesses are reliant on outdated systems and technology, at a time when “hackers are getting smarter and more sophisticated.”

Robert O'Brien

Robert O'Brien

“For too long now companies have under assessed the risks involved, have under prioritised their cyber security. It makes Ransomware a very easy and very lucrative option,” he said.

The latest Ransomware attack, called Petya, comes only weeks after the WannaCry attack that crippled the NHS and hit computers in more than 150 countries.

Petya has also struck businesses across the globe, with users being locked out of their computer systems and asked to pay a ransom in bitcoins, an online currency.

Mr O’Brien said the impact of these attacks can be devastating.

“As a global business community we have become almost wholly reliant financially on computers and store almost all our key information digitally.

“You can see why locking someone out of their system is so lucrative to the hackers. It plays on that reliance, it plays on the likelihood that a small ransom will be paid to make it all go away.”

He said many businesses however were still leaving gaping holes in their systems, holes that were giving criminals encouragement to exploit.

Earlier this year research undertaken by the Institute of Directors and Barclays revealed that 94% of firms in the UK believe IT security is important but only 56% have a strategy in place to deal with cyber attacks.

Mr O’Brien continued:” That is a mindset and a culture that must change. It means the business world are increasingly vulnerable at a time when hackers are getting smarter and more sophisticated especially in terms of what technology they use.

“We need to see businesses fully comprehend the risks involved - not nearly enough business leaders are giving the issue the serious consideration it deserves.

Mr O’Brien said there were some basic steps every organisation should undertake to mitigate the r“Addressing vulnerable systems and educating people in the workplace on cyber security are key steps to take. Securing company data by storing in multiple location is also essential to minimise risk from cyber criminals,” he said.