By Roland Moore-Colyer
London's City bankers and workers are being hit by a substantial amount of ransomware as the Square Mile comes under more cyber-attacks than many countries.
According to threat intelligence data collected by security firm Malwarebytes, the city came under nearly 10,500 ransomware hits in little over a year, significantly more than any other London borough, city or county in the United Kingdom.
The density of financial organizations packed into the city's square mile presents a tempting target of cyber criminals looking to extort wealthy organizations via ransomware.
"Given that only 7,000 people live in the City of London, but hundreds of thousands commute there every day, it is not a great leap to assume these attacks involved compromised work systems. With over 80m square ft. of office space in just 1.1 miles—that is a hugely tempting target for the bad guys," said Nima Samadi, data science analyst at Malwarebytes.
The city received more ransomware attacks than the top ten highest areas of these attacks combined; more than Birmingham, Manchester, Essex, Kent and others. The city suffered 670 percent more ransomware attacks than Manchester, the nearest other hotspot for such cyber-attacks.
While spelling mistakes, typos and other oddities in emails can help savvy people detect dodgy emails hiding ransomware, the attacks are getting more sophisticated with botnets designed to propagate them at such a volume that someone is likely to get trapped by ransomware at some point.
"When analyzing the data it gave us an interesting snapshot into a growing problem facing companies. These nefarious threats, which essentially demand money with menaces, are becoming a real problem for big business—encrypting company files for ever unless the ransom is paid. It is a modern day protection racket," added Samadi.
With universities getting plagued by ransomware attacks and nearly half of all cloud malware claimed to be ransomware, it would seem like the problem is only going to get worse before it gets better.