A UK council hit by ransomware 13 times in a year

At least 30 per cent of UK's councils were victims of a ransomware attack, a new report by endpoint security software company Avecto says.

The report, based on a freedom of information (FOI) request towards the councils, says 46 councils were asked if they had been targeted by a ransomware attack in the past year. Thirty per cent answered affirmative (13 councils), with one council saying it suffered 13 attacks in 2015.

Nine councils withheld information and 14 per cent failed to answer. "The true figures could be even higher,” the company said in a press release.

Almost two thirds, however, (65 per cent) said they had not paid any ransom to the attackers, while 35 per cent did not disclose this information.

“These are sobering statistics,” says Paul Kenyon, co-founder and co-CEO at Avecto. “Ransomware attacks are particularly attractive to cyber criminals because they can be relatively cheap and easy to deploy, and even if a minority of targets pay up then the attack overall can be profitable. It’s estimated that 9,515 users in the US alone are paying ransoms every month.”

Ransomware is a very popular type of malware attack, in which the attacker encrypts all the data on the victim’s computer, and then demands ransom in Bitcoin in order to decrypt the files. Ransomware usually starts with a phishing attack, where the victim is tricked into downloading and running a malicious application, usually through an email.

Security experts say that being careful what you download and install, as well as backing up your system regularly, is the best way to protect yourself from these types of attacks.

Image source: Shutterstock/Martial Red