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Combating the rise of cyber extortion

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Ransomware continues to be a vicious worldwide cyber threat, and with new strains created every day, there are no signs it will slow down. The potential to fall victim to cyber extortion is high, with no business, industry, device, or operating system safe from ransomware.

The good news is everyone can be prepared for it.

Many small business owners fall into the trap of thinking, “Why would they target me?”. In reality, SMEs are more likely to pay moderate ransoms, as they are less likely to have adequate protection. Cyber-criminals know that SMEs collectively present a highly lucrative target.

Industry surveys have found even though fewer SMEs are paying ransoms, and more attacks are being reported, awareness of ransomware among SMEs remains low. Only 31 per cent of SMEs in Australia are ‘highly concerned’ about ransomware, meaning education is critically needed.

Here’s my advice: NEVER pay the ransom.

Doing so only tells the criminals you have valuable data, and you’re willing to spend the money to protect it. Once they’ve identified you as an easy target, they’ll come back again and again.

This is cyber extortion. And, let’s be clear, paying the ransom will not guarantee your data is returned. Take the 2016 Uber breach: the popular ride sharing company claims it secured the data of 57 million users by paying the ransom, but do you trust that your information is safe? There’s no honor among thieves.

So, what can you do to protect your business?

Research from Allianz Global Assistance (AGA) reveals that more than half of Australian small businesses are not adequately prepared for cyber-attacks. Firstly, it’s important to research, install and update front line security, such as firewalls and antivirus software. However, ransomware continues to outsmart the leading perimeter defenses, often through human error, so it’s essential that businesses include cyber-security training and a robust backup and disaster recovery solution in a multi-layered security strategy.

Even if businesses apply cyber-security best practices to limit the impact of ransomware attacks, they also need to be able to restore their systems as quickly as possible following an attack to minimise the cost of business downtime.

Disruptions to business continuity have the most significant financial impact on companies affected by ransomware (far more than the cost of paying a ransom – which you should NEVER do).

There are some great risk assessment tools available to help calculate the predicted recovery time and cost of downtime per hour for your business.

A reliable backup and recovery solution (BDR) is a key element in ransomware protection for businesses. When researching your solution, ensure it offers rapid image-based recovery so that you can spin up the most recent backup within minutes. Legacy backup solutions require new hardware to be ordered and installed, and infrastructure to be rebuilt – a process that usually takes days of downtime. A proper business continuity solution installed and managed by an IT specialist (such as an MSP) is critical to keeping your doors open, and keeping your money in your pocket.

Tech Precision Methodology:

We believe in developing a relationship of understanding with our clients. Being able to leverage technology so you the client receives outcome based solutions helping you drive your business forward. Providing IT Solutions with Integrity.

Tech Precision are IT service specialist, if you need help with IT support or guidance please contact us or call 1300 788 738.

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