Hot Topic Highlight - Help, I'm held to ransom!

Posted on 15 / 05 / 17
by jenLemenHogarth

Hot Topic Highlight - Help, I'm held to ransom!

Building a better you 

Property Elite’s sole aim is to build better property professionals - supporting your career every step of the way, whether you are completing a RICS accredited degree course, your RICS APC or simply seeking engaging CPD.

Our Hot Topic Highlight blog posts will arm you with information on the hottest topics - ready to tackle that important client meeting or provide ideas for your RICS APC submission.

This blog article will focus on the recent ransomware cyberattacks which have hit 150 countries and over 200,000 computers, as of 15 May 2017.

Why is this relevant?

In the UK, the cyberattacks have targeted a wide variety of businesses - the most prominent being the NHS. In many instances, ensuring good data management and security could have avoided the attacks.

For business owners and property professionals, good data management and security can mean the difference between business success and failure.

Moreover, good data management isn't just important at work, it's also essential to ensure that you protect your personal identity and finances. 

Within the APC, you could be asked about data security within the data management or property/records/information systems competencies, in addition to any other competencies where you discuss the storage or management of data.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware usually arrives via an email attachment or remote access. Opening the attachment allows the ransomware to infect the computer and locate encrypted files on the hard drive. The cyberattacker then issues a Bitcoin ransom demand - when this is paid, a decryption key should be issued (assuming they do as they promise...).

Why has this become more popular?

The recent attacks have happened to high profile organisations with severe financial impacts and disruptions to private/public services. The key issue is that software vulnerabilities have been exploited, e.g. old operating systems (e.g. Windows XP) used where up-to-date security patches are no longer released. 

What are the impacts?

  • Loss of data
  • Financial cost to meet ransom demand
  • Risk that decryption key won't be released
  • Disruption to serve
  • Reputational damage
  • Breach of the Data Protection Act

How can cyberattacks be avoided?

  • Install and update malware software
  • Ensure IT devices have the latest security patches installed
  • Ensure administrator privileges prevent access to unauthorised users or guests
  • Only install software you need and from reputable sources
  • Back-up data regularly (on and off-line)
  • Segment your hard drive or network to limit damage
  • Use two-factor authentication - Apple iPhones use this technology
  • Recognise what a ransomware attack could look like
  • Ensure good staff training and data security processes

Relevant APC competencies:

  • Data management
  • Property records/information systems

Want to know more?

Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you

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