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ICO issues ransomware guide

ICO issues ransomware guide


The Information Commissioner's Office has issued guidance on protecting your business against ransomware attacks.

Following an increase in ransomware attacks and personal data breaches, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is recommending that businesses establish incident response, disaster recovery and business continuity plans to address the heightened risk of attacks.

This recommendation accompanies ICO’s new guidance, and a checklist of actions businesses should review to assess their preparedness against potential ransomware attacks on their organisation. The new guidance presents eight scenarios about the most common ransomware compliance issues the ICO has seen:

  • Scenario 1: Attacker sophistication
  • Scenario 2: Personal data breach
  • Scenario 3: Breach notification
  • Scenario 4: Law enforcement
  • Scenario 5: Attacker tactics, techniques and procedures
  • Scenario 6: Disaster recovery
  • Scenario 7: Ransomware payment
  • Scenario 8: Testing and assessing security controls

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that attempts to unlawfully encrypt files on a host computer system.

A ransomware attack occurs when an attacker gains access to an organisation’s computer systems and delivers malicious software into the network. This software, or ‘payload,’ then makes the data unavailable through encryption or deletion. Ransomware is often designed to spread from device to device to maximise the number of files it can encrypt.

The ‘ransom’ element comes from the ransom note left by the attacker requesting payment in return for restoring the data. This is usually done by a decryption key that only the attacker can access.

Where personal data is encrypted as the result of a ransomware attack, that constitutes a personal data breach because you have lost timely access to the data.

Unless you have a backup of the data, you will not usually be able to recover it unless you decide to comply with the attacker’s demand for payment. Even if you decide to pay the ransom fee, there is no guarantee that the attacker will supply the key to allow you to decrypt the files.

To read the full guidance issued by the ICO visit Ransomware and data protection compliance | ICO

Finally, if you have concerns about the security of your files, either in digital or hard-copy, then speak to us about our Document Management and Storage solutions. We can examine the existing document management processes in your business and identify improvements through automating and digitising your document storage using our secure Live-Docs system which can act as a virtual filing cabinet for your organisation’s documents.

For more information contact us on 01827 726934 or email

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