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How did hackers bring Royal Mail to a halt?

International Distribution Services PLC (IDS), the owner of Royal Mail, suffered a ransomware attack this week on its online systems used for international deliveries.

Ransomware, a form of attack the Guardian also suffered this week, is “malware designed to deny a user or organisation access to files on their computer”.

The attackers attempt to encrypt the most valuable files and demand payment, often in hard to trace crypto currencies, in return for re-access to the original user.

Reports indicate the Royal Mail ransomware attack was enacted by LockBit users, a software developed in 2019 that self-pilots the attacks.

LockBit 3.0 is the latest version and said to be favoured by criminals in Russia, a Russian-Canadian was arrested in November for involvement in LockBit hacks.

In November, ransomware attacks rose by 41% with 265 attacks taking place, according to a report by information assurance firm NCC Group PLC (LSE:NCC).

Another notorious piece of ransomware is Royal.

“Royal, which we first tracked in January 2022, concerns a number of experienced ransomware actors working without affiliates – different from the standard ransomware-as-a-service model we usually observe,” said the NCC Group.

Two of the industries targeted most are industrials and consumer cyclicals though the technology sector has faced up to 75% more attacks per month in 2022, the report added.

When contacting cyber-security firms about the issue none claimed to be developing specific anti-ransomware packages.

Malware analysts and programmers like Vlad Pasca and @3xp0rtblog take the fight directly to the criminals, detailing the inner workings of the hacks and revealing the identities of the hackers involved.

With an increase to the volume and scope of the attacks, a cyber-security firm that can develop functioning protection could propel itself to new heights.

IDS’s share price appears to be unaffected by the ransomware news, the value is up 1.5% today trading at £2.27.

NCC Group currently trade at £2.09, with the share price up 10% in the last 6 months.


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