The Sad Tale of Ransomware: A New Cyberworld Evolves


Does your CEO’s eyes glaze over when you start to talk about APT, and encryption, and the need for loading balancing within a DDoS attack? Well, read on …

So what’s the cost of ransomware? A few million dollars? A billion dollars? A few billion dollars? Well, in the case of Travelex, the answer is a few billion. Tell your CEO about that one!

And so every company must wake up to the sorry tale of Travelex — a company decimated by ransomware, and who never quite recovered from it. It is an increasingly common set of security elements: APT (Advanced Persistent Threat), data exfiltration and ransomware. If a company has data which is sensitive, an APT actor will go after it and invest a great deal of time finding a way in. Once found — and phishing, social engineering and RDP scanning are right-up their in terms of the intrusion method — they will observe the infrastructure for a time, and then take sensitive data off the site, and eventually leave with a ransomware infection. The chance of success in getting a payment for the ransom is often extremely high. And so, companies need to improve the DLP (Data Loss Prevention) infrastructure, and also have better ways of detecting the spread of ransomware.

At the end of 2019, Travelex was a billion-dollar company and a fairly strong brand. But a ransomware attack, and then COVID-19 has decimated their business. At the end of 2019, Travelex’s shares were riding high, but ransomware hit it hard, and since then their share price has crashed:

The company tried to recover, and even paid a $2.3 million ransom in April 2020:

But the resources required to rebuild an information infrastructure can be fairly extensive, and every day that their systems remained off-line, meant that their partnerships with the financial industry faded away. It is thus a story of how companies need to understand resilience and make plans for the “Black Swan” event. For Travelex, the…



Prof Bill Buchanan OBE
ASecuritySite: When Bob Met Alice

Professor of Cryptography. Serial innovator. Believer in fairness, justice & freedom. Based in Edinburgh. Old World Breaker. New World Creator. Building trust.