Cyber security – is your business at risk?

I was quite shocked to listen to the Jeremy Vine show on 1st April 2106 to hear that Dr. Sarah Jarvis had fallen prey to a cyberattack. A sophisticated attacker hacked her Hotmail account. You can listen to the details 1 hour 36 min. into the program http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b074m4bj

Her e-mails and contacts were taken to run a scam. Her password was reset, too. Dr Jarvis contacted an expert straight away to help resolve the issue and avoided a worst case outcome. If at any time she had included her bank details or other highly private details in an email – the hacker now has all of that information.

So, what can you do to protect yourself?

Put an IT support contract with a reliable supplier into place, so you can reduce the cost to help you resolve your problem. A support contract may cost you less per year, than having your problem fixed ad hoc.

Purchase a good Antivirus software package. Free ones, often are not updated as a priority as incidents occur. Good, paid for ones will update daily, if you have set them to do so, and often pick up more than a free solution does. There is so much truth in the expression “you pay for what you get”. Should you have servers, rather than simply individual devices, always ensure the software also protects your server.

AND – most importantly – BACKUP your data! No access to data – you cannot run your business!
Discuss with your IT provider the best way to do this for your business.

So what are the current threats?

  • Phishing – sending emails to large numbers of people asking for sensitive information (such as bank details) or encouraging them to visit a fake website.
  • Water holing – setting up a fake website or compromising a legitimate one in order to exploit visiting users.
  • Ransomware – which could include disseminating disk encrypting extortion malware.
  • Spear-phishing – sending emails to targeted individuals that could contain an attachment with malicious software, or a link that downloads malicious software.
  • Deploying a botnet – to deliver a DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack.

The Financial Times published an article on this subject on March 27 2016, highlighting the dramatic rise of Ransomware, which uses encryption to lock you out of digital files until a monetary ransom is paid. Usually they ask to be paid in bitcoins. Globally these cases increased by 170% with the UK disproportionally hit, according to Intel Security.

Initially focussing on individual consumers they are now targeting businesses and government organisations – and the ransom demands are higher. Earlier this year Lincolnshire County Council’s IT systems had to be shut down for almost a week, when they refused to pay a ransom demand.

Small and medium sized businesses, which likely have weaker security and less regular data backup systems, are particularly under threat by the attacks.

Engineer Artur

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