Ransomware is the most recent and deadly cyber security threat faced by individuals and corporates across the world and the cyber data must be well protected to avoid such attacks, a top cyber security expert has warned.
“There were around six million ransomware threats in the first quarter of this year while it was three million in 2016. There were about 157,000 ransomware attacks in the META (Middle East, Turkey and Africa) region during the first quarter of this year,” explained Ghareeb Saad, senior security researcher, Kaspersky Lab at a cyber security awareness event in Vienna recently.
Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event, Saad explained that ransomware attackers are spreading their ploys to various other sectors which were conventionally not part of such attacks earlier.
"Hospitals, hotels and universities among others are the targets of such attacks. This is causing huge problems for individuals as well as organisations. Such a sudden attack makes people helpless and they are at the mercy of such attackers as some important information they need cannot be accessed.”
According to the official, ransomware attackers encroach into the data, stored online, take possession of them and make them inaccessible for the owners. To retrieve the data, the owners have to pay ransom according to the demands of the hackers. In several cases, the owners have paid the ransom to get access to their data.
Saad highlighted a few examples of how ransomware, as the name suggests, is creating huge problems for people. "I had come across the case of a mother whose child was suffering from cancer and the data of all the medical records was made inaccessible by the hackers. The mother had to pay ransom as there was no other way to get access to the data.
"A similar thing happened with a hotel recently where the hackers got access to the door key system and got them locked, creating huge inconvenience to the guests at the hotel. The hotel people had to pay ransom demanded by the attackers to get the key card system activated again.”
According to the expert, such incidents are on the increase and people are suffering and being inconvenienced in many ways. He also spoke about cases where students find their study materials and thesis made inaccessible by the ransomware attackers.
He cautioned that people must be highly aware of the threats that can take place due to ransomware attacks and take adequate precaution.
“Make sure that all important files are backed up and kept separately. It is highly important that all the software are updated, especially the browsers. People have to use strong security software with up-to-date database. Finally, never open any attachments from untrusted and unknown sources,” he added.
Related Story