Computer Security

I think we have all noticed the recent news about the NHS and how much harm can be caused by a computer virus.

Let’s start by being clear about what this is. This is a malicious piece of computer code which has found its way on to a computer and when activated has encrypted key information so that it is no longer accessible by the computer user. It then migrates to all other computers within the vicinity.

Here at NECL, we were approached by a new client, who, based in Kew, experienced the same computer infection. In this instance, they were being asked for a ransom of two and a half bitcoins. Bitcoins are a digital untraceable currency which is currently valued at over £1,300 each making the ransom they were being asked for being a massive £3,250 per infected computer. In a business setting, you also have the cost of any downtime, IT consultancy, as well as a loss of reputation if the virus prevents you from responding to customers’ needs.

NHS Cyber Attack

So who is at risk from such an attack?

Broadly speaking, it is anyone with an internet connected device (although at the moment these infections are more prevalent on desktops and laptops). These infections often hide themselves within an innocent looking webpage and infect your computer purely by you visiting the infected site. So, in other words, whether you are a home user or one of the largest employers in Europe such as the NHS then you are potentially at risk.

How do you defend against it?

  • Ensure that your important data and irreplaceable photographs are backed up at all times. This can be done by either a simple cloud based automated system or via a local device. Whichever method you choose, you should perform test restores on a regular basis and if you are password protecting your backups please do check that the passwords work. Dropbox and other similar cloud sync tools are often not a backup.

  • Ensure that the device you are using functions on an operating system that is fully supported by the developers. Companies such as Google, Microsoft and Apple work incredibly hard and plough a lot of time and money into fixing vulnerabilities but they can only do this for currently supported products. It is essential that you make sure that you have the latest software updates also known as patches installed as soon as they are made available. Conveniently, this can often be automated within the device settings.

  • Use virus protection which includes an integrated firewall on each connected device. Please be aware that the best software does come at a small cost and the software itself does need to have the latest database of threats installed to be of any use. Perform a full scan on your devices regularly.

  • If you are a business, or you wish to have an extra layer of protection, and in addition to the above, you should install an up to date firewall appliance on the perimeter of your network. These latest devices are inexpensive, and provide a rule based system for protecting your network. They also provide real-time scanning of what comes off the internet before it is even viewed on your device and can stop a virus such as this dead in it’s tracks.

If you need any help or guidance with the above please get in touch by email on or you can call Neil direct on 07967 201492.

We are happy to help in any way we can.