While there are a host of cybersecurity threats out there, I believe that none are as threatening as the ransomware threat. Your data is hijacked, and while in the hands of a hacker, is rendered useless. You can always pay the ransom but is that really a solution? I think not. Ransomware hackers are often repeat offenders, and you may need to pay the ransom again and again. Notwithstanding that your precious data could easily be copied and be made a free-for-all on the internet.


The ransomware threat is now so prevalent that a global coalition has been established in an attempt to nip it in the bud. Microsoft, Amazon, the FBI, the UK’s National Crime Agency, and cyber security vendors, non-profit and academic institutions, have joined the Ransomware Task Force (RTF) calling for “aggressive and urgent” action against ransomware. The RFT recently submitted a report to President Biden’s administration, part of which read:

“Ransomware has become a serious national security threat and public health and safety concern.”

Jen Ellis, co-chair of the RTF added:

“Citizens are being impacted by this every day. It’s having a huge impact on the economy and the ability for ordinary people to access critical services.”


Just to show you the crippling extent of the ransomware threat, here is an example of attack that occurred in London in 2020. In October that year, critical data of the London Borough of Hackney was held hostage, affecting all of its IT systems and services such as benefit payments, housing repairs, and land registry of almost 300,000 residents severely impacted. Rob Miller, the director of ICT for the borough said:

“It’s going to be months until we’re fully recovered, and I can’t understand the motivation behind this for the criminals.”

The motivation is money, and hackers want as much of it as they can get. And, of course, the ransomware isn’t confined to London. The FBI has claimed that nearly 2,400 companies, local governments, healthcare facilities and schools were victims of at least one ransomware attack in 2020. RTF also confirms that hundreds of major attacks took place around the world last year, including in the UK, Brazil, Germany, South Africa, India, Saudi Arabia and Australia.


In late April 2019, the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) explained the intentions of the RTF. These include:

  • A robust plan to tackle the threat of global ransomware
  • Technological measures to disrupt hackers and ransomware practitioners
  • To ensure that organizations and individuals are equipped to prepare and respond to ransomware attacks

The NCSC also reported that in 2020 there were 3 times as many ransomware incidents in the UK compared to 2019. It note that hackers are now much more sophisticated, selecting high-value data to encrypt and obstructing online cloud backups to prevent data recovery.


Noting the increase in ransomware attacks during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly on the education sector, which was striving to facilitate online learning, the NCSC has devised these tools to help everyone deal with potential ransomware attacks:


The ACD programme developed by the NCSC provides tools and services to protect against a range of cybersecurity threats including the ransomware threat. These tools, which can be used by businesses, official government entities, and individuals, include:


If you don’t believe that the FBI or the NCSC can cut it when dealing with the global ransomware threat, then please contact me. Those who know me and have worked with me understand that IT and cybersecurity are close to being my lifeblood. Well, maybe I exaggerate, but as an business IT professional with 20+ years’ experience in risk mitigation, I don’t take cyber threats lightly – especially the ransomware threat.

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