23 March 2017
Press release

UK public still largely ignorant of surging threat of ransomware attacks, finds new research

Most Brits unaware of, remain vulnerable to 21st-century's fastest-growing malware threat, according to a new study by backup and storage solutions experts Acronis

London, UK - March 23, 2017 - The vast majority of UK adults are ignorant of the imminent danger presented by ransomware, according to new research. The aggressive new virus locks up a computer's files, then demands the victim make a payment over the Internet to regain access to them. The study reveals that the British public is woefully unprepared to respond to this fast-growing threat to business and personal data.

The findings, based on a survey conducted by data management and protection company Acronis, show that despite a steady stream of news stories of successful attacks against hospitals, local authorities, hotels and other companies, 77% of Brits don't actually know what ransomware is.

Recent examples [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4149266/Chilling-menace-HACKERS-holding-NHS-ransom.html] of UK ransomware attacks include three hospitals in North Lincolnshire whose computer systems were completely crippled by the malicious software, and the Barts Health Trust in London, which runs five hospitals, which also saw its systems affected. Staff at the Lincolnshire hospitals had to return to pen and paper until the sustained attack was mitigated, while Barts fortunately managed to limit the spread of the attack. Both hospitals reportedly avoided having to pay a ransom to their attackers, unlike another hospital in Los Angeles last year, which was forced to pay online criminals $17,000 to unlock its systems.

Answering the question: "Could you explain ransomware to a friend," 60.4% replied "No, what's ransomware?" and another 16.6% said: "Probably not, I've just heard of it." Only 7.6% of respondents said they "definitely" could explain what ransomware was, and 15.4% said they "probably" could.

The lack of awareness about ransomware is matched by data insecurity among UK adults. Well over two thirds (69.6%) said they "worried" about the safety of their personal data. And almost half (47.2%) of respondents said they felt "vulnerable" from cyber attacks via so-called "Internet of Things" (IoT) devices like internet-connected security cameras and voice-activated speakers.

Despite the fear out there, though, 95.4% of those surveyed said they would refuse to pay a cyber criminal to "give your data back if they stole it or held it hostage". Only 4.6% said they would cough up.

"This combative attitude, however, is not helped by the lack of measures taken to protect personal data in the first place," said Xxxxxx Xxxxxxx at Acronis, which recently released the latest version of its personal data backup and storage solution Acronis True Image 2017 New Generation. "Our research revealed that 59% did not have a plan in place to retrieve photos, files and data if they were hacked. And 31.9% admitted to opening an email or clicking on a link from a sender they didn't know. This is why we decided to have ransomware protection built into our personal and business products."

The lack of data security among Brits is disturbing, considering that 37% of them admit they would not be able to cope with losing any type of personal data permanently as a result of a cyber attack - whether social media related, work related, photos of friends and family or personal finance information.

Despite almost two-thirds of respondents not having a plan in place to protect their data, many recognised the importance of backing up personal information. When asked: "Would it be important for you to understand that a file you had backed up was completely unchanged since it was backed up," 63.8% said it would.

About Acronis:

Acronis is a global cyber protection company that provides natively integrated cybersecurity, data protection, and endpoint management for managed service providers (MSPs), small and medium businesses (SMBs), and enterprise IT departments. Acronis solutions are highly efficient and designed to identify, prevent, detect, respond, remediate, and recover from modern cyberthreats with minimal downtime, ensuring data integrity and business continuity. Acronis offers the most comprehensive security solution on the market for MSPs with its unique ability to meet the needs of diverse and distributed IT environments.

A Swiss company founded in Singapore in 2003, Acronis has 15 offices worldwide and employees in 50+ countries. Acronis Cyber Protect is available in 26 languages in 150 countries and is used by over 20,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses. Learn more at www.acronis.com.
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Katya Turtseva
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