How to deal with Ransomware.

Deal with RansomwareI want to come back to this topic on how to deal with Ransomware. This is because I keep meeting business people in the training that I deliver who, either know of somebody or have themselves, suffered a Ransomware incident. I have previously talked about how Ransomware can infect your machine. It can be by dodgy looking e-mails or legitimate looking e-mails. The variety is endless, but it is generally all down to somebody clicking a link or opening an attachment. I’ve got an entire commandment dealing with e-mails and how you should handle them.

What I’ve talked about above, is all prevention. However that doesn’t help you if you are staring at a monitor with a ransom demand on it. Let me give you a couple of examples of recently reported Ransomware incidents and how they were handled.

Bristol Airport recovers from Ransomware Incident

On the weekend of the 15th and 16th September, Bristol Airport suffered a Ransomware incident. This incident took their flight information screens off-line for much of the weekend. Luckily no other safety or flight systems were affected.

How did the authorities at Bristol Airport deal with Ransomware? They re-built the systems and restored backups. They did not pay the Ransom.

Scottish Brewery suffered a Ransomware incident from a job application.

In the last couple of weeks, the Arran Brewery in Scotland had all of it’s systems affected by Ransomware. They had been running a recruitment campaign, advertising for a role via their own website. The evil doers took that ad and posted it to some international recruitment websites. The brewery then started receiving several e-mails a day from interested candidates from all over the world. In among those e-mails the bad guys slipped in one with Ransomware. The CV got opened and their files got scrambled. Not only were their live files affected, but their recent backups were too. These were stored online, attached to their network. Their most recent offline backups were 90 days old.

How did the brewery deal with Ransomware? They also re-built their systems and restored what backups they had. In this case though, they did consider paying the (GBP) £9,600 ransom. They came to the determination that the value of the data they lost (90 days of sales data) was less than the cost of the Ransom demand. They also took into consideration that paying the Ransom does not guarantee they would get back their data.

The brewery then did something really sensible. They have kept a copy of the scrambled data.

Help may be available from the good guys.

There is a not-for-profit, freely available service called No More Ransom ( This is run by various Law Enforcement and Cyber Security firms around the world. They are constantly working on cracking the codes for the different Ransomware variants and enabling people to recover their data for free.

So the Arran Brewery is holding onto the scrambled data in the hope that someday they will be able to unscramble it.

So how should you deal with Ransomware?

Prevention is always better than a cure.

The first thing is to make sure you get your staff some security awareness training. This is something that I deliver. Details of the complete training is available here. We can do customised training to suit your organisation too. Call me on 087-436-2675 or e-mail on to discuss your requirements.

Then ensure that you have your systems updated/patched regularly, have security appliances like Firewalls in place, Anti-Virus is generally helpful against malicious software and also you shouldn’t insert strange USB devices into your computers.

Finally, you should have a good data backup system in place. This can be a very simple set-up or more complicated depending on your business needs. Again, I offer advice and support on backup strategies and business continuity planning. I also have a commandment about backups.

That’s it! With all of the above in place, in the very unlikely event that you do subsequently suffer a Ransomware incident, you will be able to recover from it.

What if it would cost me less to pay the ransom?

This is a genuine struggle for a business owner, particularly small businesses. Recovering systems from a ransomware incident takes time, which costs money, and the business may be unable to operate while recovery is ongoing, so is not generating revenue. A good business continuity plan, should reduce such risks.

If you are tempted to pay, I just have two things I want you to consider:

  1. There is no guarantee that you will get your data back. Figures vary wildly from 50% to 100% failure to recover data. If you pay and don’t get your data back, you will then have to pay the full cost of recovery anyway.
  2. You are funding organised crime. You are paying criminals who not only do cyber crime, but human trafficking, drugs, weapons, etc. People think I am being jokey or have my tongue in cheek when I refer to Evil Doers. I’m not. This is an accurate description of these people. They! Are! Evil!

If you pay once, then the bad guys reckon you might pay again, so you will be a bigger target. My advice to deal with Ransomware is to implement preventative measures (call me on 087-436-2675 or e-mail to have a no obligation chat) and never pay these evil doers.

What else do you need to consider?

Don’t forget that if the data that gets scrambled contains personal data, then you have a data breach on your hands, which may be notifiable under the new Data Protection Act 2018 which incorporates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). I’ve a short video here:

Finally, if you do suffer a Ransomware incident, a crime has been committed, so please report it to local Law Enforcement. They may not be able to do much about it, but it needs to be reported for statistical purposes if nothing else. If it can be shown that Cyber crime is as big a problem, as I know it to be, then the more reports to Law Enforcement will mean they will get more resources to be able to tackle it’s root cause.

#LetsBeCarefulOutThere and #StaySafe

#SecuritySimplified #GDPR