May 22, 2017

Is WannaCry ransomware cyber-attack the “wake-up call” we all needed?

A cyber-attack has hit around 150 countries, starting on Friday 12 May and lasting until after the weekend. The attack consisted of a ransomware virus that took control of users’ files. The attackers demanded a $300 payment to restore access. Microsoft has warned that this is a “wake-up call” to take cyber security more seriously and blamed governments of storing data on software vulnerable to hacks.

 

 

We need to do more! It’s in the stats

Barclays has recently released eye-opening data regarding crime and fraud in the digital landscape. The bank’s report, Digital Safety – The Great British Fraud Fightback, claims that there were 5.6 million fraud and cyber offences in the year ending December 2016. This makes up half of all recorded crime in the UK, costing £11 billion in 2015/2016. Barclays’ findings also show that:

  • 25% of people in the UK have experienced cyber fraud in the last three years.
  • Major UK cities, London, Bristol and Birmingham, are “scam capitals” in the UK.
  • Young University-educated Londoners (Masters and above, aged 25-34) are the UK’s most vulnerable group.
  • Young people (aged 25-34) are twice as likely to be victims of online fraud rather than older generations, mainly because their use of digital services is much higher.

Additionally, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) reported in 2016 that over 55s are at a heightened risk of fraud. According to the FCA, there is an increasing risk of retirees being scammed with investment fraud, with over 65s who have savings in excess of £10,000 being three and a half times more likely to fall victim.

What can we do about it?

Brad Smith, the chief legal officer at Microsoft, commented that cybercriminals are becoming “more sophisticated” and the only thing customers and computer users can do is keep updating their systems.

Advice from IT and security experts is that users can also be more careful when handling sensitive data. Users shouldn’t click on untrusted or unknown external links and email attachments. Human error, after all, is claimed to be the reason for most security breaches.

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