The only thing paying a ransom guarantees is more ransomware attacks

Ireland must set an global example and face down cyber extortionists

Someone needs to show that you can survive these cyber attacks without paying. Can Ireland show the way? Photograph: Getty Images

Someone needs to show that you can survive these cyber attacks without paying. Can Ireland show the way? Photograph: Getty Images

It is tempting to see this week’s cyber security crisis in Irish healthcare as inevitable. Most economically-advanced countries have experienced some sort of major cyber incident. Indeed, the event bears some resemblance to the most testing moment of my six years running cyber security in the UK; almost exactly four years ago the NHS experienced serious digital disruption. Demands for payment in cryptocurrency appeared on the screens of doctors’ surgeries. Ireland’s turn, so this argument goes, had to come sooner or later.

Yet Ireland has been singularly unfortunate. Ransomware – the locking of computer systems followed by the issuing of extortion demands to the victim to unlock the network and keep any stolen data out of the public domain – is the principal security scourge of the digital age. But attackers tend to focus on commercial organisations likely to pay quietly for the problem to go away.

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