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Millions of UK SMEs vulnerable to ransomware attack

Tens of millions of UK small to medium businesses [SMEs] are at risk of being infected by the Cryptolocker Trojan that has been plaguing users across the world.

The email masquerades as a message from a financial institution with the malware contained within an attachment that, when opened, affects the computer involved. The UK’s National Crime Agency [NCA] is sufficiently concerned to issue a warning to SMEs stating that there is a significant risk.

"The NCA are actively pursuing organised crime groups committing this type of crime. We are working in co-operation with industry and international partners to identify and bring to justice those responsible and reduce the risk to the public,” said Lee Miles, deputy head of the National Cyber Crime Unit [NCCU], which is aiming to identify the source of the emails.

Once the “ransomware” has been installed on computer’s running Windows it issues a command that the user pays two Bitcoins worth around £536 to access the decryption key.

This is by no means the end of it as reports state that even once the ransom has been paid the files remain decrypted and SMEs are finding it neigh-on impossible to recover the encrypted files.

UK NCA figures remind users that it never endorses ransom payments of any kind and that there is no guarantee that meeting the ransom will give users or SMEs access to the encrypted content once again.

The Cryptolocker ransomware campaign has been an emerging threat so far this year with Bitdefender revealing this weekend that some 10,000 victims were affected by the campaign in one week alone.

Victims of the virus and computer users at large are reminded to protect against these attacks by installing anti-virus software with free options among some of the most effective barriers against such an attack.