Internet 2.0 co-founder David Robinson said: ‘APT41 is into everything. Ransomware has been a big part of their operation and what we’ve seen around the world for the last year is an unrelenting, sustained attack on organisations and individuals.’
The suspected APT41 hipster hackers in the photograph are in China, but other ransomware gangs are based in Russia, several former Soviet states, North Korea, Iran and parts of West Africa.
Thought to be in Russia, the notorious REvil group has targeted Microsoft emails and it is suspected of an attack against the Harris Federation, a group of nearly 50 primary and secondary schools in and around London. The gang last year also received £1.8 million from Travelex, the now bankrupt UK-based foreign currency exchange service, after taking control of its systems.
High street retailer Fat Face is the latest victim. It is understood to have paid £1.45 million ransom to a gang called Conti which stole 200 gigabytes of data, including customer information, and locked the firm out of its systems in January. Conti is thought to be linked to a suspected Russian ransomware cartel called Ryuk.
The Kremlin is accused of turning a blind eye as long as Russian firms and interests are spared.
The UK Government in 2020 announced the creation of a 3,000-strong National Cyber Force that will bring together specialists from GCHQ, the Ministry of Defence and the intelligence services to tackle the issue.
But security experts say the Government must make it harder for firms to pay up. At present, some companies have insurance policies that allow them to make claims for ransom payments.
‘We’ve got ransomware wrong as a society and criminals have clocked that it’s a lucrative, successful line of business,’ Mr Martin said. ‘Ransomware is increasing because it pays.’
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