Ransomware is the biggest cybersecurity threat facing the world today, with the potential to significantly affect whole societies and economies – and the attacks are unrelenting, the head of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned.
"Even with a war raging in Ukraine – the biggest global cyber threat we still face is ransomware. That tells you something of the scale of the problem. Ransomware attacks strike hard and fast. They are evolving rapidly, they are all-pervasive, they're increasingly offered by gangs as a service, lowering the bar for entry into cyber crime," said Lindy Cameron, CEO of the NCSC In a speech at Tel Aviv Cyber Week.
She added that the NCSC has dealt with "nationally significant incidents" along with hundreds of general cyber incidents that "affect the UK more widely every year".
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While she didn't detail any specific instances of responding to ransomware incidents, Cameron warned that "these complex attacks have the potential to affect our societies and economies significantly", and implied that if it weren't for the work of NCSC incident responders, alongside their counterparts in the industry and international counterparts, the attacks could have had a major impact.
Working alongside other law enforcement agencies, Cameron said that the NCSC is working to understand the criminal system that helps drive ransomware attacks – and how the nature of ransomware gangs and the techniques they're using to facilitate ransomware campaigns continue to evolve.
"We want to make ransomware an unprofitable and unattractive business," said Cameron, who argued it's not all doom and gloom when it comes to cybersecurity, going on to detail how the NCSC's Active Cyber Defence Program has helped to disrupt cyberattacks targeting citizens.
This includes a takedown project that has removed millions of malicious URLs, and the suspicious email-reporting service, which has allowed the public to report over 10.5 million suspicious emails, leading to over 76,000 online scams being taken down.
"We want to help create a society that is resilient to cyberattacks, where cybersecurity is second nature to all of us," said Cameron.
According to newly released figures from cybersecurity company WatchGuard, the volume of ransomware has risen significantly with the amount of detected activity in the first quarter of 2022 more than three times what was detected during the same period last year.
The report suggests that the emergence of aggressive ransomware and extortion operations including LAPSUS$ and BlackCat are behind what's described as "an ever-increasing ransomware and cyber-extortion threat landscape."