• What is a Ransomware Attack?

On Friday, 14th May 2021 The HSE were victims of a significant ransomware attack on some of its IT systems overnight. As reported earlier today, the IT systems remains shut down, So what is a Ransomware Attack? How does it happen? What Happens Next?


Ransomware is a form of Cyber Attack, which is is an assault launched by “cybercriminals” against a single or multiple computers or networks. Cyber attacks at their heart are illegal methods of robbing protected data, deleting confidential documents or adding malicious software without consent.


In the case of a Ransomware, it is a cyber attack whereby malicious software (malware) encrypts a victim’s computer files. The cyber attacker is then in a position to demand a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment.


What is a Ransomware Attack?


The  ransomware attack on the HSE’s IT systems is an example of a malware attack in which malicious software is installed onto a system without consent. The software then attaches itself to legitimate code, modifies it and blocks access to data.


How does it happen?


Ransomware is installed onto a computer without the user’s consent and can be introduced onto a computer through phishing emails that contain malicious attachments. Once the attachment is open by the user the ransomware is let loose and spreads. Another common method of occurrence is when a user unknowingly visits an infected website which then automatically downloads and installs malware onto the user’s sysyem without their knowledge.


What Happens Next?


As is the case with the HSE ransomware attack, the perpetrators then threaten to publish or delete the blocked data unless a ransom is paid.


They are able to block access to the data by employing a technique called “cryptoviral extortion”, which encrypts files in such a way as to make them impossible to recover without a decryption key, created by the cybercriminal.


Keep up to date on HSE healthcare, hospital and COVID-19 appointments following disruption due to cyber attack here.

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