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With cyber attacks on the rise, we tell the story of a real ransomware attack, and explore what lessons people can take away from one.

It was a seemingly ordinary day in Gareth’s* life. Then the phone started ringing, and it never stopped. His company was the target of a ransomware attack. Years later, he shares his story with journalist and author of 'The Dark Net', Jamie Bartlett, as part of ICAEW’s Cyber Crime Week.

Cyber attacks such as phishing and ransomware are on the increase, as cyber criminals identify new ways to breach company systems in the new hybrid working environment.

According to the latest Cyber Security Breaches Survey, four in 10 businesses and just over a quarter of charities experienced security breaches or attacks during the first 12 months of the pandemic.


Jamie Bartlett, internet culture and technology journalist, author of 'The Dark Net', 'The People Vs Tech' and 'Radicals', host of 'The Missing Cryptoqueen' podcast.


  • Gareth*. Gareth is an IT manager whose previous employer suffered a major ransomware attack in 2014, before such attacks were common knowledge. He was able to overcome several hurdles in order to restore the company’s systems, and learned some valuable lessons about how to protect organisations from such attacks. 
  • Mike O’Neill. Mike O’Neill is managing director of Optimal Risk Group and a member of the Chartered Security Professionals Regulation Authority. He and his team provide security and risk consultation services to organisations around the world, including penetration testing.
  • Sophie Wales. Sophie is the director of trust and ethics at ICAEW with responsibility for ethics, economic crime, fraud and business law. Sophie leads ICAEW’s policy work in these areas, engaging with government and other regulators, as well as providing guidance for members.

*Name has been changed


Natalie Chisholm

Episode published: 15 October 2021
Podcast recorded: 7 October 2021

All views expressed on this podcast are those of the contributors and don’t necessarily reflect those of ICAEW or its members.