Hack attacks: Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security

Businesses of all shapes, sizes and industries are experiencing hack attacks every single day in Australia. And these situations are on the rise, reports reveal.

Hack attacks can be deliberate attacks, technology issues or simple negligence. The costs involved can be massive - ranging from notifying your customers, investigations, credit monitoring, the need for public relations, compliance and even the potential for compensation and engaging experts.

According to the Australian edition of PwC’s 2016 Global Economic Crime Survey, cybercrime is now the number one economic crime in Australia.

The PwC survey found that 65% of Australian respondents have experienced cybercrime in the last 24 months

The PwC survey found that 65% of Australian respondents have experienced cybercrime in the last 24 months - a much higher rate than the rest of the globe (32%).

Businesses need to prepare for the unknown that tomorrow holds, too, with almost six in 10 Australian organisations expecting to experience cybercrime in the next 24 months. And worryingly, 80% identify an increase in their risks of cybercrime (up from 63% in 2012).


How to protect your business


Businesses can protect themselves by looking out for email scams, by being cautious of emails from unknown senders, by taking care on social media and by only dealing with reputable institutions when trading online. Other tips to protect your SME include;

  • Use different passwords for every account and ensure they are strong
  • Back-up your business data regularly
  • Store backed up data off-site and check the data restore periodically
  • Keep antivirus software up to date, along with software patches and updates
  • Be conscious of personal information shared online
  • Know where cloud-based data is stored.

Source: Australian Institute of Criminology



What is cybercrime?

The NSW Small Business Commissioner defines cybercrime as fraud, money laundering and theft – all of which could have could have a significant impact on a business.

Its website explains that small businesses often try to save money by using laptop computers, tablets and mobile phones for both businesses and personal use, share technology among staff and don’t set up or maintain firewalls, virus protection and security bugs.

Don’t think that cyber criminals have bigger fish to fry - no one is immune. None of us will forget the Australian Census website hack this year, in what is a high profile example of how cybersecurity is a constantly evolving and complex matter.

None of us will forget the Australian Census website hack this year

There are plenty more we don’t hear about, too. During a recent Four Corners report on ABC television, the Prime Minister’s cyber security adviser, Alastair MacGibbon revealed that the Australian Government was ‘attacked on a daily basis’, but that not all these were made public.


The extent of the hack

According to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN), hack attacks include:

  • Unauthorised access or hacking – when someone gains access to your computer or device without permission
  • Malware – malicious software, such as viruses, Trojans and spyware, which monitor your online activity and cause damage to the computer
  • Denial of service attacks – which floods a computer or website with data, causing it to overload and preventing it from functioning properly. This type of attack is frequently targeted at businesses rather than individuals.

Business owners at a loss

Meanwhile, business owners are looking for ways to protect their cyber security, with many realising there’s an increasing need to hold a specific cyber insurance policy.

Sydney cybercrime expert, Andrew Bycroft, says business owners are often at a loss to know how to protect themselves from cybercrime. He works with businesses to build a strategy to plan ahead and minimise any damage that cybercrime could cause.

There’s an increasing need to hold a specific cyber insurance policy

A common hack is a ransomware email, which is a malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

"I often get calls from frantic business owners staring at a red screen demanding a ransom be paid for the return of their files. It can be a very scary experience, but it’s happening every day to business owners,” Bycroft says.

Small businesses might need to spend a few weeks minimising their risk at a cost of between $2,000 and $10,000, while larger businesses may need to spend between $50,000 and $100,000 on cybercrime minimisation strategies, according to Bycroft.

Where to report

Hack attacks can now be reported to ACORN. Be sure to provide as much detail as possible and keep any relevant information about the incident, such as emails and screenshots.

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