One recent story that existing business owners or those looking to incorporate a limited company with the assistance of London Registrars may have noted concerns on what has been declared to be the ‘worst ever’ ransomware attack. Experts believe that as-yet-unknown parties lifted a trove of tools from the National Security Agency (NSA) that were then used for a global malware campaign.

The emergence of WannaCry

Hackers apparently used sophisticated nation-state tools allegedly created by the NSA to exploit a vulnerability in the Microsoft operating system. It became publicly known in August 2016 that a hacking group called ‘Shadow Brokers’ was attempting to sell these tools. However, it seems that frustration with poor sales of the tools led the group to dump a portion of them on the web, free for anyone to use, in April this year.

The following month, WannaCry – also known as WannaCryptor – was circulated in an attack that caused immense disruption in 150 countries. Hit by the malware were not only private consumers or even enterprises, but also hospitals, transportation networks and other crucial agencies across the globe.

According to cyber security experts at Kaspersky Lab, the malware was deployed without the need for any action by users, locking up screens and demanding a $300 bitcoin ransom. It used a worm component to deploy on an existing Microsoft vulnerability. Russia is thought to have been the country most adversely hit by this ransomware.

What does this mean for your organisation?

While Microsoft deployed a patch to protect against this specific NSA tool in March, ransomware looks unlikely to meet its demise anytime soon. Whereas ransomware was 22nd on the list of tools used to defraud and attack Internet interests as of 2014, it is now fifth on the list and rising. Indeed, Verizon’s recently released 10th annual Breach Report has described ‘ransom notes’ as now being “the most profitable form of writing”.

Among the initiatives in the battle against ransomware has been a collaborative effort between vendors, security experts, law enforcement and other groups, known as ‘NoMoreRansom!’, which has a website providing advice and encryption tools to those affected by malware.

As for what you can do to protect your own business and its personal data against this rising threat, much of it is relatively common-sense and timeless, so includes ensuring that your computers and devices are fully up-to-date, as well as backing up your documents and computer contents. NoMoreRansom! urges the use of two back-up systems – one in the cloud and the other a physical backup on a separate computer, external storage or portable hard drive.

Such procedures will enable you to restore your systems without the need to pay a ransom in the event that you do get struck by malware. However, it also helps to simply think before you click, given the threats that can be contained in otherwise innocent-looking email or advertising links.

Avoid paying ransoms in response to attacks

Even if your organisation is ill-prepared and hit with a ransomware attack, it is strongly advised by computer security experts that you do not pay the ransom, partly because the malware will probably remain on your computer and paying money will likely heighten your odds of being attacked again. Nor is there any guarantee that payment will result in the return of your data uncorrupted.

Contact the London Registrars team today for further risk and compliance support, or to incorporate a limited company as the first step to the safe and successful operation of a new business.

September, 2017