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Ransomware will be a rapidly growing phenomenon

Don’t be Held to Ransom Without Insurance

Feb 2020

Ransomware will be a rapidly growing phenomenon, according to cyber expert, CyberCube, which believes incidents like the cyber attack on foreign exchange giant, Travelex, will become increasingly common[1] and warns that ransomware development has grown significantly since 2017’s WannaCry attack. For those without cyber insurance, warning bells should ring.

The 31 December 2019 attack on online currency provider Travelex, which works with other Forex companies such as HSBC, Barclays, Tesco, Virgin Money[2], used ransomware known as Sodinokibi or REvil. Travelex says it led to some encryption of data but no infiltration.[3] But the fact such a big financial name could be successfully targeted, demonstrates that any size company can have its systems hacked, by those determined enough to breach them.

Cyber specialists identify two types of cyber criminal at present. The first group are ransomware developers and hackers who join forces to carry out their attacks, sharing the ransoms they acquire. The second consist of what are described as ‘Big Game Hunters’ who work alone and target those able to pay large ransom demands.

The ransom demanded in the Travelex attack is quoted as being $6m (£4.6m)[4], with Travelex’s owners threatened with system deletion or having their data sold online. For some time, the online currency provider could only operate from its airport and off-airport offices, dealing in exchange transactions face to face with customers.

Whilst Big Game Hunters have also waged targeted attacks on oil and gas facilities[5], it is probably the ransomware developers and hackers that pose the greatest threat to the majority of UK businesses, especially SMEs that may not have the malware detection systems and firewalls in place to prevent an attack. Phishing continues to be a risk for many organisations, with just one click on a malware link giving criminals access to systems and data. Phishing grew 65% between 2018 and 2019 and accounts for 90% of data breaches.[6]

SMEs suffering an attack may not have the IT expertise to deal with resulting issues, or the financial capacity to get back up and running with new, uninfected systems. For both reasons, it makes sense for all businesses to review their cyber strategies and include the purchase of cyber insurance within those reviews.

If you need to talk to a broker about cyber cover and the help it can provide in the event of an attack, please use our ‘Find a Local Broker’ tool.