Ransomware attacks are targeting SMEs. Get protected.

Sunday May 28, 2017

If your idea of cyber security goes no further than keeping the energy cells charged in your laser-hound menagerie, then you might not have been keeping up on recent events. Ransomware attacks like the recent Wannacry debacle are a serious and growing threat. Don't be fooled into thinking you're flying under the attackers' radar, either. Small businesses are actually a key target for these e-criminals. Worse still, if you don't take steps to protect your business now, it could be more than just your own money and information at risk.

Ransomware attacks work by using your own computers against you – and then against other people. First, they lock you out of your data. Depending on your situation, that could mean losing work, access to your financial information or even customer details. Next, you're hit with the ransom demand, which will typically be just low enough at first to make you consider paying it to cut your losses. Average initial demands tend to run between £500 and £2,000. Wait too long making up your mind, though, and you'll probably see those prices rise sharply. Lastly, your computer very probably now belongs to the hackers. That means it can be used to launch more attacks on others, spreading the virus you've already caught.

It gets worse. Even paying the ransom doesn't necessarily get you fully off the hook. Many businesses still find they've lost data after paying up to get it decrypted. Even if everything seems fine, your computer has still been compromised. Who knows what other nasty surprises it's got lurking inside it? Make no mistake; ransomware attacks aren't just mindless vandalism. They're a weapon, a global business model and a full-fledged criminal industry. SMEs are being actively targeted, and casualties are most definitely being suffered. Last year, those losses amounted to well over £7 billion to UK businesses alone.

You've probably already heard the most obvious advice a thousand times already. Don't open email attachments unless you're 100% sure what they are. Always keep your computers' operating systems and security software up-to-date. Keep back-ups of all your important data, and keep them separate from your work machines. A permanently connected back-up drive won't be much help when your work PC passes its infection directly onto it. There are plenty of cloud-based back-up options available – and honestly, it's less a question of whether you can afford to use them than whether you can afford not to.

The other thing to understand is that there are consequences for not keeping your cyber-doors locked, even if you never fall victim to a hacker. From May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force. Any company handling information relating to EU citizens will have to comply with the new regulations. The gist of it is a focused tightening of the rules around the way that information is obtained and used. The fines are no joke, either – up to €20 million or 4% of your global turnover.

So stay safe, and remember that your always in good hands at RIFT. Our Clear Books software is as secure as a digital bank vault, and you can access your information at any time. Protect your business, your partners and your customers – and keep listening out for more Voices from the RIFT...

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