Chamber Matters: Be ransom-aware!
Published 29 Jul 2016Navertech Director Peter Body urges businesses to be vigilant when dealing with cyber crime.
I don’t like seeing grown people cry so I’d like to urge businesses to be extra vigilant when opening email attachments and to treat cyber security as seriously as they would physical security.
My warning comes after several local businesses have been struck by the ransomware Cryptowall, a computer virus which encrypts important files and demands a ransom to get them back.
The severity of this virus is such that it’s not just a case of removing the virus, it actually encrypts commonly used files such as Microsoft Word and Excel documents. Once encrypted, the only way to get your files back is to restore from a recent backup or pay the ransom to get a decryption key, the latter being a last resort.
Navertech has successfully decrypted customer files by paying the ransom, but it is complicated and costly. The ransom cost is typically £400 and if you don’t act within seven days it increases to £700. This ransom must be paid in Bitcoins and sent to a Bitcoin address which changes each time, making it virtually impossible for the authorities to track the source.
The perpetrators are no longer wannabe hackers doing it for fun, they are businesses generating millions of pounds in revenue every year.
It really emphasises the need for businesses to review their IT arrangements and double check they have complete and fully verified backups.
Keeping your anti-virus software up to date is essential but, having done this, you cannot afford to become complacent. Anti-virus software only detects known threats and hackers are highly skilled and determined folk who take pleasure in seeking out ways to circumvent the process.
Consequently, it’s equally important you maintain a high level of alertness and do not open any attachment or download if it seems in any way unusual. Also, be wary off clicking on hyperlinks, in particular for online advertisements, unless you can be sure they’re safe.
It’s always best to check with your IT provider if you are unsure about the legitimacy of an attachment, a service which Navertech currently offers to its IT support business customers.
The ransomware virus has affected hundreds of thousands of businesses and individuals world-wide and is typically circulated by suspicious email attachments, such as invoices and purchase orders.
The mitigation measures to help protect businesses from this threat will be a subject covered by the Caithness Chamber of Commerce Cyber Seminar being held on the 24th of August at Naver House.
In the meantime, if businesses require any advice or support, Navertech is only a phone call or email away. Contact us by phone on 01847 892892 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help whether you’re and existing or new business customer.