IGA News

Beware of Ransomware

Beware of Ransomware

29 March 2016

Malicious Software or ‘Malware’ takes many forms and is often referred to as a Trojan, after the Trojan Horse. The current biggest threat, the Locky Virus, is a fast acting virus that will begin attacking a computer’s files within minutes of being downloaded.

Ransomware is a particular type of malware that seeks to perform ‘Cyber Extortion’, demanding a payment in order to unlock the victim’s computer or files following successful downloading of a virus to the computer.

It may be easy to think ‘why me’ or ‘I wouldn’t fall for that’ but cyber criminals are getting more sophisticated in targeting their victims. Everybody with an email address has received fraudulent emails, and everybody has been the target of some form of ‘hack’ or cyber attack. Under section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006, the basic offence is ‘Fraud by False representation’. With the necessary criminal intent, when a false representation is made, the offence is complete. Nobody has to be deceived or lose money. So somebody receiving a phishing (fishing) email will be a victim of a cyber crime.

You have probably received recently numerous unexpected emails containing invoices. They are delivered to corporate email addresses and usually start accounts@, info@, sales@ or similar generic email addresses. They may be just an attempt an invoicing fraud, trying to get a bogus invoice paid, or something more sinister such as the Locky Virus.

We are aware of a small family business that has been affected recently. They were expecting some documents to be emailed from a supplier. An email arrived which was believed to be from the supplier (whose own email address had been “harvested”) and opening the attached document triggered the download of the virus.

The virus then set about encrypting files on their computer and attached backup drive using military grade encryption. The computer then started behaving in an unusual way and a ransom demand was shown to the user, demanding an amount of money in order to be sent the ‘key’ to unlock the files.

In this case, the company did not want to pay the ransom, and has been trying with the assistance of an encryption specialist to unlock the files - at the time of writing unsuccessfully.


· Be suspicious of emails from unknown or unexpected sources. Be very wary of clicking on links within emails and opening attachments.

· Have a firewall and malware protection in place and make sure both these and your other software programmes are updated regularly.

· Back up data regularly, preferably with two or more ‘incremental’ backups so that at least one set of files are not exposed to new viruses.

For more information call the member helpline on 0845 305 4230, or visit www.GetSafeOnLine.org