Steep Rise in Ransomware Attacks

According to a recent report by Forrester Research, ransomware attacks on businesses are up 500% on last year!  The report also states that many firms have felt obliged to pay ransoms, as attackers have become more sophisticated in targeting backups; indeed it states that paying a ransom can ‘be a valid recovery option based on business need and circumstances’.  This is clearly at odds with official guidance, which still advises against having any dealings with criminals.  Anyway, two recent high-profile ransomware incidents illustrate the potentially devastating impact of an attack.

Aluminium manufacturer Norsk Hydro was hit by a ransomware attack in March which paralysed 22 000 computers across its 170 sites globally.  Production had to be temporarily halted in some business units whilst others were able to continue, but only by operating manually.  The company estimated that the attack had cost up to $52m in the first quarter of the year, but had to postpone the formal announcement of results by several weeks as it was still restoring its accounts systems.  More recent reports on the BBC suggest that the cost has now reached $57m.  Fortunately though, with revenues of around $10b annually, and a cyber insurance policy in place, the company should live to fight another day.

The attack on Eurofins Forensic Services at the start of June has not only had devastating consequences for the firm itself; but has also impacted on the UK criminal justice system.  Eurofins Forensic Services carries out a range of DNA testing, toxicology analysis, firearms testing and computer forensics services for police forces across the UK.   Late last week the National Police Chiefs’ Council took the decision to temporarily suspend all submissions to Eurofins; but it is unclear if other providers have the spare capacity to pick up their 50% share of the market.  If not, there could be significant delays to criminal trials over the coming months.

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