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Ransomware attacks on the rise in Switzerland

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that threatens to publish or freeze access to data or a computer system until the victim pays a ransom fee to the attacker. Keystone / Ronald Wittek

Cyber-attacks are on the rise in Switzerland with 94 ransomware incidents reported in the first half of the year, according to the Sunday weekly Le Matin Dimanche.

The source of that figure is the network supporting investigations against digital crime (NEDIK) but the president of this network believes that the problem is much larger.

Serdar Günal Rütsche told Le Matin Dimanche that the number of cases needs to be multiplied by 20 to get a realistic figure. That would add up to almost 2,000 ransomware attacks in Switzerland this year.

In October, the Beobachter magazine estimated that 2,700 Swiss firms had fallen victim over the past year.  That compares with 4,800 attacks over the past five years as a whole.

While Swiss authorities strongly advise against paying hackers, 30 to 50% of hacked companies pay the requested ransom to recover their data, according to Mathias Fuchs of Zug-based Infoguard told Le Matin Dimanche.

The phenomenon of cyber-attacks began in late 2019. This year saw several high-profile companies and institutions confronting ransom demands from cyber criminals. Experts say the vast majority of such cases are not flagged to the authorities.

The coronavirus pandemic has coincided with a surge of different kinds of cyber crime in Switzerland.

In September, the government said it was planning to boost defences against cyber-attacks. This involves the creation of command centre comprising 575 members of the armed forces who will be trained to protect state data, as well as critical infrastructure and private companies active in fields like telecoms or transport.

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SWI – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.
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