A business in Gibraltar recently being hit with a ransomware attack has prompted authorities in the British Overseas Territory to warn other firms about this risk, while advising them on how they can minimise their own risk of cyber-attacks, and what to do in the event of being impacted.
What is ransomware?
The term “ransomware” is short for “ransom malware”; it refers to a type of cyber attack that prevents the affected user from getting into their computer system until they have paid a ransom.
Attackers typically leave a “ransom note”, which tells the victim that the only way to access their files is to use a “key” that can only be bought from the attackers. The victim is then usually given a 48-hour window in which to contact the attackers – otherwise, they face their files being deleted and/or shared on various parts of the web, such as hackers’ forums.
In a ransomware situation like this, the attackers usually send a link to the dark web, which gives them a means of contacting their victims and making demands without revealing their identities.
Ransomware has a long history, the earliest versions from the late 1980s demanding that payment be sent through the postal system. Today, however, the targets of ransomware attacks are typically asked to send payment via cryptocurrency or credit card.
Gibraltar police shares advice and guidance on combating ransomware risk
The warning on the ransomware risk to businesses was issued by the Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP), which said its investigation was ongoing into an attack on a local firm.
An RGP spokesperson was quoted as saying by SUR in English: “If anyone believes that they have been targeted, they should speak to an IT professional or their Internet Service Provider for help, as they may be able to assist immediately in preventing the attack from continuing.
“If a ransomware attack is confirmed, the relevant server/computer should be considered as a crime scene, which contains vital evidence. It is important to keep a timeline of events and to save server logs, web logs, email logs, network graphs and reports. These would assist in any future investigation.”
The RGP also set out various steps that businesses in Gibraltar can take to minimise their likelihood of becoming subject to a ransomware attack in the first place. Those included only browsing and downloading software from trusted websites, and ensuring they did not download any unknown or non-trusted software.
The police force also urged local businesspeople to install and keep antivirus and firewall software on their computers, and to take the time to regularly back up the data stored on their devices.
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