NCSC Focus On Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware strikes have grown  significantly over the first half of 2021 with major attacks in the US and Britain, where the  National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has issued a warning about the increase in ransomware attacks targeting schools, colleges and universities.

Now, in a new initiative the NCSC is encouraging all organisations to sign up for its new  Early Warning Service.

Large scale  ransomware attacks like those on Ireland’s Health care services, and the US Colonial pipeline have serious economic consequences, to the extent that the US Government Accountability Office is saying that insurers, including Lloyd’s of London, are reviewing their cyber insurance coverage offered to the healthcare and education sectors, which are considered particularly vulnerable to ransom.

Ransomware is a type of cyber attack in which someone encrypts a victim’s files through malware. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment. This type of crime can affect both businesses and individuals and where malware is deployed to disable IT systems until the ransom is paid. 

The NCSC says it has seen another increase in attacks at a time when exams in education are critical as this can lead to losses of student course work, exam information and medical virus data. "It is important that senior leaders understand the nature of the threat and the potential for ransomware to cause considerable damage to their institutions in terms of lost data and access to critical services... Due to the prevalence of these attacks, you should be sure to follow NCSC’s mitigating malware and ransomware guidance. This will help you put in place a strategy to defend against ransomware attacks, as well as planning and rehearsing ransomware scenarios, in the event that your defences are breached.” says the NCSC.  

Some of the most common methods cyber criminals use to gain access to university networks and lay the groundwork for ransomware attacks involves targeting remote desktops with phishing emails. The NCSC also suggests that secure cloud services are introduced to help detect and prevent phishing emails.

It's also recommended that all organisations have plans to enable effective recovery, so it's possible to restore it without giving into the ransom demands of cyber criminals. This can be achieved by using, offline backups as these are the most effective way to recover from a ransomware attack.

NCSC:      NCSC:      EdTechnology:    InvestisDigital:     Professional Security:   ABC:     

Financial Times:     Lloyds:    ITPro:

To help prevent ransomware attacks in the first place Cyber Security Intelligence recommends that organisations have an independent cyber strategy and audit regularly. For advice and recommendations on your organisation's cyber security needs, please contact us directly.

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