The ransomware attack against U.K. foreign exchange firm Travelex is just a taste of what’s to come with cyber crime, according to experts at CyberCube, the cyber risk analytics firm.
Travelex announced this week that cyber hackers were holding its systems to ransom, crippling its online currency exchange services. Travelex also provides forex services for partner businesses such as HSBC, Barclays and Virgin Money as well as the banking arms of U.K. retailers Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
CyberCube cautioned that a major systemic ransomware event would spread much more widely, “potentially hobbling large swathes of the economy.”
“What’s happened to Travelex is part of a rapidly growing trend,” said Nick Beecroft, client services manager at CyberCube, in a statement.
“Ransomware attacks are increasing year on year and will soon reach the point at which a major attack could cripple businesses across the world – what would amount to a complete systemic failure,” he warned.
“Ransomware has become more than a cottage industry with ransomware developers and hackers teaming up to attack companies and then divide the spoils. There are also so-called ‘big game hunters’ who work alone and target firms able to pay large ransoms,” he added.
The use of ransomware by cyber criminals is growing because of its “speed and ease of monetization,” said Alejandro Sauter, cyber risk analyst at CyberCube.
“[W]hile some businesses have been slow to admit they’ve fallen victim to attacks, we’ve recently seen a movement towards the publication of ‘shaming sites’ with companies infected being listed,” Beecroft continued.
In an emailed statement, Beecroft explained that these sites are keeping companies honest, forcing them to more proactively manage the risk and aftermath of ransomware attacks and other cyber breaches.
CyberCube’s analytics platform helps insurance businesses analyze and make better decisions when underwriting cyber risk – for example, the effects of a major ransomware attack on an insurance portfolio.
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