Cyber criminals ransom Bundaberg businesses


Bundaberg Now technology writer Geoff Augutis from Queensland Computers says several local businesses have been victims of cyber ransom attacks in recent months.

According to CERT Australia, ransomware is a type of malware that locks your computer, system or network until you pay a fee.

After the initial infection, the ransomware attempts to spread to shared storage drives and other accessible systems. If the demands are not met, the system or encrypted data remains unavailable, or data may be deleted.

“Even in a town like Bundaberg, local IT providers deal with a number of these attacks on local businesses each month,” Geoff said.

“Within the past month there have been a number of ransoms demanding and paid to the tune of $5000 per ransom in Bitcoin.”

cyber ransom attacks
Protect yourself online or risk being robbed.

Don't leave your computer unlocked

You wouldn’t leave your house or car unlocked so don’t leave your computer unlocked either. If you do, you risk having personal and work information stolen, potentially including your identity.

You could also become a victim of ransom.

Ransomware is the fastest growing malware threat. It targets all users and severely damages businesses around the globe.

In the first six months of 2017, there were two large ransomware outbreaks that affected individuals and businesses across the world; in May a variant dubbed ‘Wanacry’ affected over 300,000 computers, followed by the variant ‘Petya’ in July that affected 16,500.

Some things in life you simply didn’t know what you needed to know until it happened.

Riding a bike is something we learnt and while there are points to learn, a lot of it comes from sitting on the seat, peddling and probably a few bumps and bruises. We learn from the mistakes and grow; practice makes perfect.

This doesn’t have to be the case for everything though. We all know that we shouldn’t go swimming right after eating (yes Mum).

We know to unplug the fridge in a thunderstorm and we know to slip, slop and slap before heading into the sun.

We also know that there are dangers on the internet and we should take some basic precautions.

Estimates are that around one quarter of all devices accessing the internet are not protected by an antivirus or similar tool.

We know we are using the internet more than ever and trusting it with things we never dreamed of (banking, personal information, photos of our family).

Why then are we not going to the effort to protect ourselves and our devices?

While cost is often a barrier, we know that this isn’t what warps this figure as there are many free solutions on the market.

They may not always be as good or as thorough in their operation but they are some level protection and don’t count toward the one quarter of unprotected devices.

We also know it is not for lack of information around whether or not it is needed.

Forget the warm and fuzzy public service announcements, this is almost a $30 billion per annum industry and those big players are marketing and pushing their agenda.

Ultimately there is no right answer as to why they aren’t protected.

With so many devices, some will always get missed; no one can force the hand here.

What we can do is take our cyber security as seriously as we do in other areas.

You wouldn’t leave your house or car unlocked, don’t leave your computer unlocked either.

Cyber security advice

  • For individuals visit ACORN (Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network)
  • For small businesses concerned about cyber ransom attacks visit the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO)