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Access denied: how to prevent a ransom-ware attack


Data is a small business's lifeline. Not only is it essential to innovation, competitiveness and improving the customer experience, it is integral in the day-to-day functioning of any organisation. When this data is compromised, the consequences for a small business can be catastrophic. These consequences are amplified when ransom-ware attack enters the game.

In the past, cyber attacks on small businesses mostly took the form of software viruses that set out to steal your credit card details. Now, ransom-ware is the most common form of malware used in the Asia Pacific, and Australia remains the main target. Like traditional viruses, ransom-ware is a financially motivated cyber-crime. During an attack, network, "endpoints" like your computer or mobile are locked while your files are encrypted and held hostage until a fee is paid.

There's a dangerous perception that ransom-ware only affects large organisations. In fact, the number of ransom-ware attacks on Australian small businesses is rising fast. In February 2017 alone, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) received over 734 reports of ransom-ware and malware attacks.

Small businesses are less likely than large organisations to have extensive security controls and to back up their data regularly. This is what makes them vulnerable. 60 per cent of SMEs targeted are likely to out of business within six months of an attack. With that amount of money on the line, the onus is now on both businesses and employees to make cyber security a priority. There is no silver bullet to preventing a ransom-ware attack. Small businesses must take a multi-layered approach to protect themselves effectively.

Over the next few weeks we will look at ways of achieving effective protection.


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