NCSC: Ransomware is the biggest cyber threat facing the UK

Lindy Cameron warns of the evolving ecosystem of ransomware, facilitated by the rise of ransomware as a service

Ransomware is the biggest cyber threat facing the UK, the National Cyber Security Centre's (NCSC) CEO Lindy Cameron is expected to warn today.

Cameron will deliver the warning at the Royal United Services Institute's (RUSI) defence and security think tank on Monday afternoon, during which she'll be delivering the second Annual Security Lecture.

Think tanks are a likely target for "nation-state espionage groups" as they seek to obtain intel about government policy and trade agreements, according to Cameron. However, the majority of UK citizens and businesses, including infrastructure providers and government service providers, are likely to be targeted by "not state actors but cyber criminals."

Cameron will label the "failure to manage cyber risk and the failure to take the threat of cyber criminality seriously" as "worrying", and will warn of the evolving ecosystem of ransomware, facilitated by the rise of ransomware as a service (RaaS)

"As the business model has become more and more successful, with these groups securing significant ransom payments from large profitable businesses who cannot afford to lose their data to encryption or to suffer the downtime while their services are offline, the market for ransomware has become increasingly 'professional'," she will say, adding that cyber criminals sometimes offer "the services of a 24/7 help centre to quickly pay the ransom and get yourself back online" or "research your cyber insurance policy to see if you are covered to pay ransoms".

"The cyber insurance industry [...] has a role to play in bearing down on the payment of ransoms and cryptocurrencies entities who facilitate suspicious transactions," she will say.

Last week, the FBI reiterated "that companies should not pay the ransom for a number of reasons", following JBS Foods and Colonial Pipeline making multimillion-dollar payments to ransomware hackers to get their systems back online.

Cameron is also expected to emphasise the importance of international collaboration: 

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"UK cyber resilience is not just a UK challenge," she will say. "This is a global challenge and we cannot do this alone. We must continue to deepen our relationships with partners around the world in support of our mutual resilience." 

The speech is to come days after the announcement of a new partnership between the UK and US which will create new jobs within the technology and science sector, as well as increase the cyber security and safety of UK and US citizens.

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