Cyber-attacks a risk for all businesses

The recent cyber-attacks on the Waikato District Health Board and other organisations has highlighted the danger for all businesses.

It’s not just big businesses being targeted. Small ones are also being asked for money to restore access to files and computer systems.

Ransomware is malicious software (malware) that encrypts files and stops you from being able to access your data and systems. Once the attackers have control, they demand a ransom so you can get your system and files back. Attacks can cripple a business, which is why the scammers can be so successful.

Prevention is critical. If you’re caught in a cyber-attack, you really have only two options – pay the ransom or rebuild your systems. 

Paying a ransom is not a good idea because you have no guarantee everything will be restored, and you will now be seen as an easy target willing to pay again.

So aim for prevention. The following steps will help protect you and your business from ransomware and cyber attacks:

·Use multi-factor authentication (MFA). It’s said to protect businesses from 99.9 percent of cyber-attacks. MFA means you can’t log in (to online services, social media, emails etc) without a code sent to your cellphone or an authentication app.

Watch out for phishing (fraudulent messages). Don’t open strange emails, websites or links that could contain malicious software that infects your systems.

Install updates for your software as soon as it’s available. Updates usually include strengthened security.

Back up everything on the cloud or external hard drives so you can restore it all if you’re attacked. 

And if the worst happens, go offline immediately to limit spread of the malware. A simple way to do that is to unplug your computer network cables and your router.

As a small business you’re unlikely to have an IT expert on staff, so go to your internet service provider to help work out what happened and to avoid it again. It might also help to engage an IT professional.

A great source for more information is at cert.govt.nz
 

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