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Ransomware a threat

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You sit down at your computer to check your email. It is Christmas time and you are getting notes from many different delivery companies saying that a package was unable to be delivered to your home. Please click on the reply button (link) to advise where or when the parcel can be redelivered.

It looks authentic, you have no reason to believe that it simply advice about collecting yet another parcel in time for Christmas. The company named is well known and reputable. Admittedly the email address looks a little strange. However, you also know there are many new domain names and extensions now, You click on the reply button…

Before you know it, your computer has downloaded a version of “Crypto-locker”. Your first thought is that expensive Anti-Virus software should have picked it up, but they can only pick up viruses they know about. This brand new release of “Crypto-locker has locked up your screen and is demanded $1,000 worth of “Bitcoin”. What the hell is Bitcoin?

The fact is Australian businesses are increasingly at risk of attack by malicious ransomware software. Hackers have moved on from targetting government and banks, and are now going after small targets on a wide scale.

They are setting small amounts because small business works out that it is cheaper to pay the Ransom than hire an IT expert to fix up the problem.

Ransomware is software that infects a user's computer or network, locking access to files until a sum of money is paid. Crypto-locker is an example.

The trouble is, Crypto-locker stays in your computer, ready to be triggered again in a few months time. You are in effect paying protection money to a criminal gang. These criminals gain access to your systems to extort money and they are becoming the biggest online threat for businesses now.

Why steal credit card numbers and online bank accounts, because with ransomware payed by some insignificant business, they still get money.

More than 1.1 billion ransomware attacks have hit Australia in the first half of this year, according to the 2016 ''Reign of Ransomware' report from internet security software provider Trend Micro.

And the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission estimates Australian small businesses lost $1 million to ransomware scams in 2014.

Hackers usually operate a scattergun approach, trying to infect as many as possible and scaling their demands accordingly. That is why a bulk send out by email with a well designed email is most effective.

The increase of wifi-connected handheld devices has left businesses open to attack from more angles, Mr Watters said.

The Australia government announced in April a $230 million cyber security strategy, while a mandatory breach notification bill currently sits before the federal parliament.

If passed it would force some businesses to report to customers when their data is at risk or has been breached.

This will allow statistics to be built up to see how widespread the problem is, to learn off each other, track down the perpetrators on a wider scale. It will also help measure the risk for insurers so they can more accurately price the risk and use Risk control methods to manage the threat better.

For now, Cyber Risk Insurance is available and if your Insurance Broker or Adviser has not yet discussed this with you, then contact us.

This is a real threat to your business, can affect your income and Brand reputation. Just like other Liability policies, you should not take the risk un-insured because it can wreck a business.

Last changed: May 03 2017 at 11:00 AM

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