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When will your business be attacked by Ransomware?



Once upon a time to secure your business, client information and financial records against criminal break-ins, required door and windows locks, a fire-proof safe for sensitive documents, and a CCTV camera to deter criminals. In this ever evolving, digital world, every aspect of essential security protection for your business activities and records has changed exponentially.


Early in our digital evolution, most hackings were done by a bunch of amateurs, mischievous IT nerds and teenagers more interested in pulling pranks or getting the recognition of their peers on a social media site.


But the landscape of hacking and Cybercrime being committed today has gone professional and become extremely lucrative on a global level. Most of it is highly organised in nature, by criminal organisations targeting many thousands of businesses for financial gain or frankly, extortion under duress.


The tool of choice for Cyber criminals is the keyboard, which is used as a weapon for eliciting ransoms and wreaking havoc on countless Australian organisations. This year, the number of cyber security attacks on Australian businesses has been increasing, with one occurring every 10 minutes, and experts are warning that the number of victims will continue to rise rapidly.


In 2020, some of the recent Cyber security attacks involved Toll Group, Services New South Wales and MyBudget. A recent Cyberattack has forced BlueScope to change how it operates, with the company pausing some of its processes and reverting to manual operations.


These are just a few examples of the organisations who have confirmed they have been subjected to a Cyber incident. While there appears to be no obvious links between those attacks, Ransomware appears to be the common theme.


The devastating impact of Ransomware on Australian Businesses

We all hear and read in the media about Cyber security incidents, and one of the most common and malicious forms of hacking is Ransomware. This allows criminals to steal, encrypt and lock up data so that the victims cannot use their own computer or access any of their network files. That is until they agree to, and pay a ransom, hence the insidious name Ransomware.


Security experts acknowledge that criminals are becoming far more sophisticated with hacking into systems and have long called for business owners to turn their focus to online safeguards. As the pace of cyber security threats accelerates for modern Australian businesses, this requires an urgent, ongoing audit and upgrade of all aspects of their Cyber security.


Ransomware attacks have real world implications

Tom Uren, a Cyber expert at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said attacks using Ransomware are happening much more frequently, and businesses needed to beef up their security. In fact, new data shows Cyber security incidents are costing Australian businesses billions of dollars each year.


Mr Uren said the reason Australians are hearing about more Cyber crime is because they are impacting day to day operations. "In times past, data used to get stolen and companies would not report that because they didn't feel like it was material to their share price. I think what's happening now is that when there is a disruption to manufacturing, they have no choice but to report it if they are publicly listed," he said.


Cyber security experts agree that because of the rapid growth of Cyber crime across modern businesses today, it’s every user’s responsibility to be aware of the dangers, and to take steps to protect their company’s assets and client’s confidentiality.


HOW DOES RANSOMWARE SPREAD?

Usually Ransomware will arrive in an email which may seem to be genuine and will entice an unsuspecting recipient to click on a link or download an attachment. By clicking on the link or downloading the attachment, the Ransomware software is delivered and infects the user’s computer. Ransomware can also be delivered via drive-by-download attacks on compromised or malicious websites or been sent using messages to social media platforms. There is also generic Ransomware, which is not individually targeted, but distributed widely from attackers’ acquired lists of emails, or from compromised websites. Because they are not specifically targeting individuals, they are not as effective in getting recipients to open, however, there are always curious people in businesses who will unsuspectingly open to read more!


RANSOMWARE INFECTION IS A DATA BREACH

Ransomware attacks in 2020 have accelerated substantially, driven by cyber criminal’s success in getting more than half of today’s business victims to pay their ransom demands. They have become more cunning; by taking time to maximize an organization’s potential damage and increasing their payoff. After achieving access, they examine your computer and networks reading emails, financial and operational data troves and then create a strategy to cause the most panic, financial pain, and disruption to your operation.


With these sophisticated tactics, it’s no longer a matter of if, in all likelihood your business could be the victim of an attack at any time, because Ransomware is a rapidly expanding, multibillion-dollar criminal business which operates with minimal overheads. It will continue to expand rapidly, by creating havoc with tens of thousands of cybersecurity incidents occurring in Australia.


HOW DO ORGANISATIONS PAY A RANSOM?

Once your computer and network files have been encrypted (stolen), the hacker