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Ten key questions and actions to tackle ransomware in critical infrastructure

Critical infrastructure assets are high value targets for state-based cyber espionage and asymmetric warfare, and increasingly, active ransomware criminal groups. Aided by rapid digitisation, 2020 was characterised by a significant increase in cyber-criminal activity, in particular ransomware attacks. Research indicates a seven-fold rise in ransomware attacks over the first half of 2020.

Indeed, all our essential services are increasingly at risk, as a successful cyber attack on critical infrastructure can:

  • Disrupt operations and the supply of electricity, oil, gas, water, waste management, and transport
  • Further threaten the safety of workers and citizens as dependent services, including emergency services and health facilities, suffer shortages or are compromised as collateral damage
  • Impact revenue, result in reputational damage, and lead to litigation or regulatory consequences to the service outage
  • Bring an economy to a standstill in a serious and sustained scenario, due to the domino effects described earlier, and the possibility of public disturbance and civil unrest
  • Be leveraged to weaken a country’s government and essential services in preparation for a conventional military attack by another nation-state.
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