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Cybersecurity leaders join forces with insurance companies to take a stand against ransomware attackers

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The latest collaborative effort in the UK to combat ransomware attacks involves the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) joining forces with insurance associations to provide guidance on preventing organizations from succumbing to ransom demands. The partnership includes the NCSC, the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA), and the International Underwriting Association (IUA), who have released a detailed guidance book aimed at reducing the number of ransom payments made by organizations.

During the annual CYBERUK conference, NCSC CEO Felicity Oswald announced the release of the guidance book, which aims to discourage organizations from reacting impulsively to ransomware incidents. The guidance book addresses recommendations from parliament and provides advice on how organizations can avoid paying ransoms, emphasizing the importance of consulting experts, involving the right people within the organization, investigating the root cause of the attack, and maintaining composure in stressful situations.

While the guidance book does not provide a step-by-step remediation plan for ransomware attacks, it offers a range of approaches for organizations to consider before making a payment. One key aspect highlighted in the guidance book is the potential risk of ransomware gangs not honoring their promise to delete a victim’s data after receiving payment, as evidenced by the LockBit leaks earlier this year.

NCSC CEO Felicity Oswald reiterated the organization’s stance against paying ransoms, emphasizing that every payment made to cybercriminals reinforces the profitability of such attacks and encourages further malicious activities. The collaborative initiative between the NCSC and insurance associations is seen as a step towards disrupting the ransomware business model, even as discussions about implementing a legal ban on ransom payments continue at the government level.

While the government works on a more permanent solution to the issue of ransom payments, the guidance book serves as a temporary measure to help organizations navigate ransomware incidents effectively. Despite the widespread dissemination of advice on handling ransomware, there is still a prevalent belief among organizations that they are immune to such attacks, creating a false sense of security.

Insurance associations like the ABI have already introduced online tools to assist organizations in enhancing their cyber resilience and developing tailored action plans to improve their security posture. The collaboration between the NCSC, ABI, BIBA, and IUA is viewed as a positive step in combatting cybercrime and supporting organizations affected by ransomware attacks.

Experts in the field of cybersecurity welcome the initiative, noting the increasing prevalence of ransomware attacks in recent months and the critical decisions faced by organizations when determining whether to pay ransom demands. Giving in to ransom demands only serves to incentivize cybercriminals to expand their activities, underscoring the importance of adopting preventive measures and resisting the urge to make ransom payments.

Overall, the collaborative efforts between the NCSC and insurance associations aim to bolster cyber resilience among UK organizations, discouraging ransom payments and weakening the ransomware business model. As the government continues to explore long-term solutions to address the issue, initiatives like the guidance book play a crucial role in mitigating the impact of ransomware attacks and enhancing cybersecurity practices across various sectors.

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