A joint report by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and National Cyber Security Centre (NSCC) has declared that the risk to businesses from ransomware is “significant and growing” as criminals find new ways to target companies and individuals for money.
Ransomware is a computer malware that installs covertly on a victim’s device that either holds the victims data hostage, or threatens to publish the victims data until a ransom is paid. Smartphones, watches, televisions and fitness trackers could all be targeted by criminals, along with any other device containing personal data such as photos.
The report warns that the rise in devices connecting to the internet meant more opportunities for criminals, with cyber crime becoming more aggressive. Many of these devices have limited, if at all, security built in.
“Ransomware on connected watches, fitness trackers and TVs will present a challenge to manufacturers, and it is not yet known whether customer support will extend to assisting with unlocking devices and providing advice on whether to pay a ransom.”
There are also major concerns regarding sophisticated criminal activity using such high-tech tools against financial institutions, plus basic software that can be downloaded to carry out similar attacks on the general public and smaller businesses.
The chief executive of the NSCC, Ciaran Martin, said that cyber attacks would continue to evolve and the publicans private sectors must continue to work at pace to reduce the threat to critical services and deter would-be attackers.
It is estimated that by the year 2020 as many as 21 billion devices will be connected to the internet by businesses and consumers around the world.