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Rise in ransomware prompts warning from cyber security specialist

Cyber security expert Phortress has warned businesses to be vigilant following evidence that the use of ransomware is increasing.

The National Crime Agency and the National Cyber Security Centre say that smartphones, watches, televisions and fitness trackers could be used to hold people to ransom over personal data.

Ransomware, which makes devices unusable until their owners pay to unlock them, has become increasingly prevalent in the past year, they say.

Any devices containing personal data such as photos, that people consider sufficiently valuable to pay for, are likely to be targeted by criminals.

In their report, aimed at businesses, the agencies say: “This data may not be inherently valuable, and might not be sold on criminal forums, but the device and data will be sufficiently valuable to the victim that they will be willing to pay for it.

“Ransomware on connected watches, fitness trackers and TVs will present a challenge to manufacturers, and it is not yet known whether customer support will extend to assisting with unlocking devices and providing advice on whether to pay a ransom.”

According to Phortress, too many businesses are ignoring the dangers so the company has launched a free diagnostic no obligation service to tell companies if their websites have been compromised.

Companies can go to a page on the company’s website, to be found at http://www.phortress.net/free-website-scan, to obtain the free scan.

The company has been warning about complacency for some time, pointing to a wide range of research that has highlighted the problem.

The diagnostic is applicable for any kind of businesses but Phortress says it will be particularly useful for IT professionals, accountants and solicitors, all of which handle sensitive information on a daily basis.