Don’t let your business data be held to ransom

Posted on: July 18th, 2016

For small businesses in Australia, ransomware is currently one of the most significant security threats – costing Australians millions of dollars.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software, known as malware, that encrypts/locks data and files on a computer/server, making them inaccessible. This malicious software is spread by criminal gangs via convincing spam emails (such as fake electricity and water bills) to extort payment from the recipient.

After a scam email has been opened and clicked on, the malware will begin to download and corrupt the computer. Once the malware has been downloaded on the computer, the person will receive a message on their computer screen from the criminal (aka the ransom note), advising them that their files have been locked, and demanding money in return for unlocking the files.

Without backup or disaster recover solutions the victim has no way to save their data, other than to pay the scammer.

In 2015, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) received more than 4,400 reports of ransomware with small businesses and consumers reporting losses of nearly a million dollars as a result.

Sadly, this figure likely represents only a fraction of the total victims of ransomware, as not all victims are willing to report the crime. Cybercriminals usually demand victims pay the ransom in virtual currencies that are difficult for law enforcement to trace, such as Bitcoin.

ACCC recommended steps to protect your business from ransomware:

  • Do not open attachments or click on links in emails or social media messages you’ve received from strangers – just press delete.
  • If you want to access footage or information about major or breaking news, use a reliable news source rather than an unknown web link.
  • Be wary of free downloads and website access, such as music, games, movies and adult sites. They may install harmful programs without you knowing.
  • Always keep your computer security up to date with anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall. Only buy computer and anti-virus software from a reputable source.
  • Use your security software to run a virus check if you think your computer’s security has been compromised. If you still have doubts, contact your anti-virus software provider or a computer specialist.
  • Keep your office networks, computers, and mobile devices secure. Update your security software, change passwords and back up your data regularly. Store your backups offsite and offline. Stay Smart Online explains how to back-up your data (link is external) and secure your mobile devices (link is external).

If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

The threat is real. It can happen to anyone. At any time. Is your business information and databases backed up? How long would your business cope without critical information? Do you have a plan in place and a back-up plan in case plan A was to fail?

The onPlatinum ICT disaster recovery and backup solution can protect all of your business critical data and records through our secure data centres. We will have your data restored and fully accessible within 24 hours after a disaster.

For more information and to protect your business, please contact us today!

 

Source: Gold Coast Bulletin, 30 June 2016, http://goo.gl/pyPfQz.

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