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Tuesday, 04 August 2020 09:13

UK firms paid about £200m in ransoms last year: Emsisoft Featured


The security firm Emsisoft claims that cyber attackers earned more than £200 million in ransoms from British companies in 2019, with the criminals who demanded, and received the money, being in many cases from Russia and Eastern Europe.

A study by the company, which specialises in helping companies that have been hit by ransomware, malware that only attacks Windows systems, found that firms paid up because they feared public embarrassment, lost data and regulatory fines.

Worldwide, Emsisoft estimated that those using ransomware as a means of making money had pulled in an estimated £19 billion annually.

Emsisoft said British companies had suffered an estimates 5000 attacks in 2019 and paid about £210 million in ransoms, mostly in cryptocurrencies which are difficult to trace to an individual.

But the company said the actual amount may be much higher as many of those who forked out money in this way were ashamed to admit that they had done so.

It is not illegal to pay a ransom in the UK unless it is connected to terrorism.

A recent ransomware attack on American cloud software company Blackbaud ended with the company paying a ransom. In the process, the data of 33 of its clients, including charity shop line Sue Ryder and the National trust, was compromised.

The Emsisoft report said Britain was sixth in the list of countries paying out ransoms, topped by France, Spain, Germany, Italy and the US in that order. America is said to have paid out US$1.3 billion in ransoms.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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