The Rise of Ransomware: 5 Things All Australian Business Owners Need to Know

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts a victim’s files. As the name suggests, the attacker then demands a ransom from the victim in exchange for restoring access to the data. The cost is generally tailored to suit the victim, with small businesses hit up for a few thousand while large companies extorted for millions.

This brand of cyber attack has been on the rise for years, and in 2023, it shows no signs of slowing down. Australia has been an increasingly popular target, with companies like Latitude, Optus, Medibank, and Canva among the most recent victims.

What can you do to ensure your business never makes this list? Working with a reputable managed IT services provider is an excellent place to start. However, you also need to educate yourself on these threats. Here are the five most important things to understand about ransomware:

1. Prevention is the best strategy

Even if your business is protected by the best managed IT services Melbourne has to offer, there are steps you should take to prevent your business from becoming a target in the first place. Prioritise the following:

  • Regularly updating and patching systems;
  • Using antivirus software;
  • Regularly backing up data;
  • Setting up a disaster recovery plan;
  • Training employees on cybersecurity best practices, including how to spot phishing emails and suspicious websites;
  • Implementing a robust cybersecurity framework.

You may also wish to consider cyber insurance. This type of insurance can protect your business financially in the event of a cyber attack, covering costs such as recovery expenses, loss of income due to business interruption, and even ransom payments in some cases.

2. These attacks are consistently increasing

Ransomware attacks are becoming more sophisticated by the year. According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre, there has also been a significant increase in ransomware attacks on Australian businesses in recent years. As mentioned in the intro, these attacks are not limited to large corporations – small and medium-sized businesses are also popular targets among criminal organisations.

3. Small businesses are targets too

In fact, researchers have found that 82% of ransomware attacks in 2021 were perpetrated against businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees. These statistics underscore the importance for enterprises of all sizes to prepare themselves for potential ransomware attacks. It’s crucial for small businesses to invest in robust cybersecurity measures and employee training to mitigate the risk of a devastating ransomware attack. Although cutting costs is important, cybersecurity isn’t the best area to do it.

4. The impact can be devastating

A ransomware attack can devastate your business, leading to loss of critical data, financial failure, downtime, damage to your reputation, and possibly even regulatory fines for data breaches. If you don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place, the recovery process can be lengthy and costly, further exacerbating the impact on your operations.

5. There are steps you can take to minimise the damage

If you do get hit with a ransomware attack, it’s vital that you isolate infected systems as soon as possible to prevent the ransomware from spreading. You must also report the incident to law enforcement and seek professional advice before responding to the ransom request. Remember that every situation is unique, so what worked for one business may not work for another.

As ransomware attacks continue to accelerate, Australian business owners must be proactive in protecting their businesses. Thankfully, if you stay informed and implement strong security measures, you can reduce your risk of falling victim to these attacks.

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