Cyber crime has become part of daily reality, where criminals apply more sophisticated software to defraud unsuspecting targets. Ransomware, one such piece of software, is malware that encrypts important company files and holds them for ransom. It is reported worldwide that cybercriminals made over $1billion last year from businesses attacked by Ransomware and, since they have learned to monetise attacks, their frequency and severity will continue to grow exponentially. The following 2017 statistics highlight the extent of the threat worldwide:
- 40% of all spam email had ransomware attached;
- 59% of infections originated from email;
- Ransomware spiked emails increased by 6,000%;
- 92% of surveyed IT firms reported attacks on their clients
Most ransomware attacks come in the form of an email attachment and extreme caution should be exercised when opening email attachments. Never open an attachment in an email you were not expecting to receive or where you do not recognise the sender. The same caution should be used when presented with URL’s that you do not recognise or if it came from an unknown sender. As an employee of your company/store you are the first line of defence against ransomware.
Two Arch stores in KZN were recently hit with Ransomware. In both stores the total database was encrypted leaving the two stores paralysed. The one store had an external backup drive installed, but failed to pull it off the network for storage, which unfortunately resulted in it being encrypted. Both stores paid the ransom with Bitcoin, after which the databases were reinstated.
In summary, most important is to be cautious of suspicious emails, delete these immediately without opening any attachments. The second precaution is to ensure that the store runs an active external backup, which is taken off the network for storage, during non-trading periods.