NCSC handled the same number of incidents in the first four months of 2021 as it did for the whole of 2020

The Annual Review published by The National Cyber Security Centre, the UK’s technical authority for cyber security, illustrates the severity of the ransomware threat. 

The report revealed that onslaught of ransomware attacks shows no sign in easing in the future. In fact, in the first four months of 2021, the NCSC reports that it handled the same number of ransomware incidents as for the whole of 2020, a number that was already more than three times greater than in 2019.

It comes against a backdrop of responding to significant global incidents, including the attack on the SolarWinds IT management platform by Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service – one of the most serious cyber intrusions of recent times – and a major ransomware attack on the American software firm Kaseya.

Jeremy Fleming, director of GCHQ, said: “This year we have seen countless examples of cyber security threats: from state sponsored activity to criminal ransomware attacks. It all serves to remind us that what happens online doesn’t stay online – there are real consequences of virtual activity.”

According to the DCMS Cyber Security Breaches Survey published in March, 39% of all UK businesses (2.3 million) reported a cyber breach or attack in 2020/21.

The report also highlighted the increased threat of supply chain attacks. Notably, in March 2021 an attack on vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Servers led to at least 30,000 organisations being compromised in the US alone. It is the fifth annual review published by the NCSC.

Steve Arlin, VP Sales, UK, Americas & APAC, ProLion, stated: “This report prioritises the need for action. There are numerous steps of varying sizes that an organisation can take in order to defend itself against ransomware, with proactivity being the driving force behind all of these.

“As an organisation makes the step of putting the right protection in place, the potential impact of a ransomware attack diminishes,” he said.

The report also highlighted the threat of Double Extortion, a tactic used by gangs that involves the threat of leaking sensitive data online if victims refuse to pay. The report states that instances of stolen data being leaked are almost certain to increase. Further UK victims of this dual-crime are highly likely.

“The latest tactics used by cybercriminals are ruthless, merciless and potentially lethal to an organisation. With the added threat of Double Extortion, once in a position where a ransom payment is demanded the likelihood of safely recovering your data and your reputation is incredibly slim.

“The report presents a truly frightening picture – cybercrime is continuing to balloon and as we are seeing time and again, ransomware is a serious threat to us all. The call to action is simple – be proactive,” Arlin concluded.