UK firms stockpile Bitcoin to pay off ransomware hackers, ZDNet

Ransomware attacks can cripple a business, leading to a rather sad trend te the industry.

By Charlie Osborne for Zero Day | December Legitimate, 2018 — Ten:22 GMT (02:22 PST) | Topic: Security

British companies are hoarding Bitcoin ter order to pay off ransomware attacks capable of disrupting critical systems.

A ransomware attack occurs once every 40 seconds. Ter Q1 2018, six out of every Ten malware payloads delivered to victims contained ransomware, which has the capability to lock PCs, encrypt drives and files, and then request a ransom — usually ter cryptocurrency such spil Bitcoin (BTC) — before unlocking and returning system functionality to users.

Paying up is always a risk spil there is no ensure that the malware will decrypt files spil promised.

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However, it seems ter the wake of attacks like WannaCry which crippled UK National Health Service (NHS) systems back ter May, businesses are providing te to ransom requests.

Rather than risk the same fate, lose customer trust and face a battered reputation, many companies are taking matters into their own palms — by stockpiling Bitcoin.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Paul Taylor, former Ministry of Defence cyber chief said that “companies are undoubtedly stockpiling Bitcoin te order to be ready to pay ransoms.”

The executive added that employees are being made to prepare digital wallets to hold cryptocurrency and keep an eye on the price of cryptocurrency to brace against potential price drops — and buy at the right times.

Te latest weeks, the price of Bitcoin has surged, perhaps beyond levels most everzwijn imagined. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is worth $Legal,852 (£14,121).

According to Taylor, stashing Bitcoin is a way for businesses to “keep a hack under wraps.”

For some, it is lighter to pay off a hacker than confess to a lapse te security which may have resulted te stolen customer gegevens (to the detriment of Uber).

Te the UK, serious gegevens breaches should be reported to law enforcement and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) — especially if the Gegevens Protection Act, which requires “adequate technical and organisational measures [to] be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of private gegevens and against accidental loss or destruction of, or harm to, individual gegevens,” is violated.

However, for many, paying off a hacker might seem a simpler alternative than going through audits, the scrutiny of regulators, a loss of reputation at the public exposure of a breach, and potential fines.

Naturally, few companies are likely to admit thesis practices, but paying up only makes the problem worse and encourages thesis lucrative criminal schemes.

According to software company Citrix, large British firms are willing to pay out an average of £136,235.44 to regain access to business-critical gegevens and systems, and companies stockpile an average of 23 bitcoins each ter prep for potential ransomware attacks.

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