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Ransomware: the scale of the threat – and how not to pay

Chris Allen, consultant, lecturer and researcher in organised crime, has seen ransomware explode in this year of the pandemic… and has a sustainable answer to avoid payment

The hideous ‘new normal’ phrase that forced itself into our national consciousness during this year’s you-know-what crisis may have come from a public health context but it is equally applicable in the world of ransomware, where attacks on corporate systems have become a depressing reality of modern life.

In July, Blackbaud – a leading cloud software company contracted to manage the data of at least seven UK universities – was subject to a ransomware attack, resulting in staff and students at York, Oxford Brookes, Loughborough, Leeds, London, Reading, University College Oxford and Exeter unable to access files until a ransom had been paid.

A statement from Blackbaud admitted that the cybercriminal removed a copy of a subset of data from their system, prior to being locked out, adding that they’d not accessed any financial information. They added: “Because protecting our customers’ data is our top priority, we paid the cybercriminal’s demand with confirmation that the copy they removed had been destroyed.”

Upcoming Events


SC Unlocks: Ransomware

SC Unlocks: Ransomware will be a platform for cybersecurity professionals to learn more about the magnitude and depth of recent attacks and how to deal with them as and when they happen to you. The conference will cover how malicious software continues to extort money from businesses and their staff, and we will discuss when/if ever it is appropriate to pay the ransom.