Ransomware attacks common for Irish organisations

Image: IDGNS

Preliminary survey results show extent of crypto-malware, and organisations’ response



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15 February 2016 | 3

The IT risk landscape has changed dramatically in recent times. Not only are sophisticated tools now available to anyone with a few hundred dollars to spend, gangs of well organised criminals are using cryptographic malware to hold businesses to ransom by encrypting their data.

TechBeat, in association with DataSolutions, has created a survey to gauge the awareness of Irish organisations of the dangers of crypto-malware, and the wider risk landscape, which is already throwing up some intriguing results.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of Irish organisations have been held to ransom by a hacker, and yet the vast majority (93%) assert they would never pay a ransom.

However, there are indications that awareness of these types of attack is increasing with nearly two thirds (63%) saying they have taken precautions against ransomware attacks.

Of the potential damage that can be caused by a cyberattack, the chief concern reported thus far is brand a reputation damage.

To put across your views and experiences, got to www.techpro.ie/survey to participate and be in with a chance to win an iPad.



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3 Responses to Ransomware attacks common for Irish organisations

  1. In most cases the Garda will do nothing on Cyber crime
    or Fraud. If you catch the criminals the Garda will do nothing in most cases.

  2. Paul Hearns says:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment on the article, all feedback is valued.
    I’m sorry that you felt the article was in some way sub-standard, but allow me to address your points individually.

    The article headline says “Ransomware attacks common for Irish organisations” and the sub headline is “Preliminary survey results show extent of crypto-malware, and organisations’ response”.

    This is to indicate clearly that the statistics quoted are early results from a survey that we are running under our TechBeat brand. This is the latest in a series of surveys of Irish IT professionals that are promoted through TechPro magazine, our TechMinute daily newsletter and on Techcentral.ie, where you commented. TechBeat is now in its fourth year.

    The survey respondents are drawn from our collective print and online readership, as well as those who attend our TechFire series of briefings. As such, it is composed primarily of IT professionals working in Ireland currently. However, we do know from the information voluntarily provided as they opt in to correspondence that there are also quite a few senior management level people who have in interest technology, who read and respond to our calls to action (one of which as at the foot of the article on which you commented).

    The headline then says that ransomware attacks are common Irish organisations. I think this is a fair interpretation of a 23% respondent indication of their organisations having been held to ransom by a hacker. I certainly would not call nearly one in four uncommon.

    Secondly, 93% was the proportion who indicated that their organisation would never pay a ransom. This figure could easily be interpreted as reflecting the fact that while 23% have experienced an attempt to hold an organisation to ransom, not all are effective and thus so many can take the position of not paying a ransom.

    Finally, the 63% was the number of respondents saying that they had taken specific precautions against ransomware attacks, indicating that the message of how damaging a successful attack could potentially be. However, even that 63% indicates that there is still much to do to raise awareness that protections are required by every organisation to ensure they do not fall prey to these attacks.

    Our reason for the news story and the use of preliminary results was to drive our readership to the survey to ensure that the largest sample size could give the most illuminating results.

    While our surveys are sponsored, and it is clearly stated that in this case it is by DataSolutions, we always publish a full feature article on the complete statistics with expert analysis by our editors and also by a technical expert from the sponsor. However, the results are clearly stated to allow the readership, many of whom would have contributed to the survey, to make their own interpretation to either confirm or rebut the interpretation of our editors and experts. The comment facility is open for the survey features in print in TechPro and online on Techcentral.ie to allow readers to comment, rebut or expand on any result, interpretation or argument made. We welcome debate and feel one of our primary functions here is to facilitate debate on the issues.

    The full results for the survey will be printed in the March Edition of TechPro magazine, and as soon as the magazine is available, will also be published on TechCentral.ie

    If you go to techcentral.ie/tag/techbeat/ you can see various topics we have covered with various sponsors in recent years. It is a useful reference as the respondents are Irish IT Pros providing their insights and experiences, which can often be either entirely lacking or difficult to isolate when dealing with such material from the big analysts. This was one of our chief reasons for creating the TechBeat brand and the research series. Ultimately, we do the surveys to try to give real Irish statistics for real Irish issues in ICT.

    With regard to your next point of “Flashy headlines without any validated content”, there are some technical issues to address. Firstly, we are all bombarded these days with information and a wave of stories. However, the reality is that to get a point across regarding a story, there is often little space or scope on crowded screens beyond perhaps 10-20 words to state the story content. This can often lead to the need for abbreviations or contractions. It takes a level of skill and experience to properly represent the content of the story while still making it compelling for the reader. We are not perfect and do not always get it right, but we do endeavour to keep it factual, eschewing sensational representation. So we take on board your comment and will be ever mindful of the need to keep it simple, concise and to the point.

    As regards “validated content” we do endeavour to attribute all statistics, comments and opinions to their respective sources to ensure the veracity of any point made is verifiable by the reader, should they wish to do so. As such, we rely on strong journalistic rigour to ensure that all content is clearly marked as being generated locally, or has been taken from our content partnership with IDG (the largest technology publisher in the world) globally, or from a vendor, distributor, reseller or service provider. We have different vehicles for our independent content, market features, industry comment and commercial messaging. We do our best to ensure that the reader knows the nature of the content, but paramount in all of this is the assurance of quality in the information. We apply the same standards of journalistic rigour to all of our content to ensure that, even where sponsored content is involved, the reader is assured of basic level of quality of information from which to draw their own conclusions.

    I am sorry that you feel there has been a “total lack of real data and meaningful content”, as we have worked hard in recent years to meet the needs of the IT professional in Ireland in attaining quality information on which to base technology decisions to guide their organisation. A major element of this strategy has been to reduce the amount of advertising we carry in favour of more content from the various parties to allow them to articulate their approach, their attitude and their outlook. By doing so, they can tell the market why they do what they do the way they do and why that can confer benefits for the buyer. We use our own knowledge and experience to put some level of context and interpretation on that messaging and then allow the readers, the IT professionals of Ireland, to make their own decisions. And then we ask them about those decisions when we speak to them at our TechFire events, our annual Tech Excellence awards and through our TechBeat surveys.

    As we are now in our thirty first year of publication across ComputerScope/TechPro, the seventeenth year of TechCentral.ie, fourth year of TechFire and TechBeat, and the eleventh year of the tech Excellence awards, we do claim some experience and authority to comment on the ICT landscape of Ireland. However, we are ever mindful of the need to listen to the readership, constantly review and evolve our offerings and seek ever to serve the IT professional in Ireland with clear, concise, unbiased coverage.

    We take on board your comments and hope that in addressing your points, we have made clear how we do what we do and, importantly, why.


    Paul Hearns

    Associate Publisher,
    TechPro Editor,
    TechFire Chair,
    Mediateam Ltd.

  3. Val Maloney says:

    You started your “article” with the headline “Ransomware attacks common for Irish organisations” and then quote “statistics” of 23 %, 93% and 63% for three KPI’s without providing the source / any source for these figures to back up the headline. This article is typical of where Techcentral.ie is now/ has being going for quite a while with its so called professional Technical IT journalism which really only constitute Flashy headlines without any validated content… Congrats on your journals ability to come up with catchy headlines, regrets to you and your Editors and Techwriters etc., on their total lack of real data and meaningful content. Many of your so called “news” articles are no longer worth taking the time to read. That said It would be almost idiotic of me to expect that anything I or others of my colleagues in the IT consultancy and support sector who agree with me say, would elicit an improvement in article standards or indeed a critical review of same.

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