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Ransomware Attacks on the Rise: An Account of Recent Victims

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Backup Systems are witnessing an increasing number of their customer base fall foul of Ransomware and other cyber-attacks.  In the last few weeks alone, a further two were hit, despite having the latest anti-virus and firewall technologies. The criminals always seem to be just one step ahead.



As a large UK company facing extended downtime, they reached out to Backup Systems after their own IT support company were unable to assist. Within a few hours of being contacted, Backup Systems were able to restore the lost data, getting them back up and running.

The cost of a ransomware attack

A survey of 1,000 UK companies who have been victims of ransomware attacks revealed that on average these breaches can knock systems down for a full week, costing up to £2,000 a day in lost revenue.

Of the affected businesses, more than 250 of them paid over £5,000 for the return of their data, but not all have a positive ending: one third stated that they were unable to access their data for a month after the attack while 15% said that it was irrecoverable.  

Living in denial

Believing that your organisation would never be victim of such an attack is a misconception that plagues many.  Ransomware is one of the fastest growing malware across all industries with reports showing that manufacturing, not-for profit and utilities and energy representing some of the hardest hit sectors in 2016.

Not only this but the technology, utilities and energy and banking sectors saw the largest year-over-year percentage increase in the number of ransomware attacks. While the Banking sector saw a growth of 93%, just shy of 100, the Technology and utilities and energy sector saw a dramatic growth of 218% and 112% respectively.

With ransomware becoming increasingly more high profile, we take a look at some UK organisations hit by ransomware within the last year.

1 – NHS Trust England

The four hospitals of the Bart’s Health Trust – the largest NHS trust in England – experienced a cyber-attack in January of this year, affecting thousands of sensitive files. While at the time Ransomware was thought to be the cause, it was later ruled out.

The concern caused by this incident was fuelled by a similar attack on the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Foundation Trust in October which was a confirmed ransomware attack.

Introduced to the Trust’s systems by phishing emails containing malicious attachments and website links, the attack rendered the majority of systems inoperable for 48 hours, causing the cancelation of 2,800 patient appointments.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act lodged by NCC Group in last year, 28 NHS trusts confirmed that they had dealt with a ransomware attack in the past year.

2 – English Universities

Again revealed through Freedom of Information requests, UK Universities reveal that they have experienced ransomware attacks within the last year.

With 71 UK universities surveyed, 23 admitted to having fallen victim to cyber-attacks and revealed that the largest sum demanded was 5 bitcoins (approx. £2322). All respondents stated that no ransom had been paid and in once case the police had been contacted.

Bournemouth University, one of the 23 respondents, admitted that despite their cybersecurity centre they had been hit as many as 21 times at the time of the questioning.

3 – London’s Financial Sector

Security researchers revealed that some of London’s top banks, law firms and other top business were found to have suffered nearly 10,500 ransomware hits in 2016. The City of London took the top position as the top UK ransomware target, with 670% more ransomware attacks than the rest of the UK’s top 10 areas combined.

With even small firms holding vast quantities of sensitive data, the implications of an attack would have a ripple-like effect on other areas of the financial sector and more broadly.

4 – Queen’s University Belfast

Targeted in a cyber-attack in the summer of 2016, the university fell victim to ransomware. This attack was just one of three faced by the university in the academic year alone. Despite university policy stating that ransoms should not be paid, a sum of £400 was made in payment.

Queen’s was not the only Irish university targeted, with Ulster University identifying 22 ransomware attacks between June of 2015 and July 16.  Systems used by individuals were affected on 18 occasions and in four instances, the attacks affected the networked file shares used by a university department.


It is impossible to know when an attack will happen, or who will be next to fall victim, but as ransomware becomes more sophisticated, so too must an organisations security and business continuity plans. When protecting against ransomware it becomes imperative to include a solid backup and recovery process as part of a multi-faceted security plan.

Business continuity is unachievable without taking the measure to implement a decent data backup solution or have the expertise of a managed service to help you recover quickly.


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Topics: Backup Strategy