Hack attacks: Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security Previous item Cost of cyber attacks on... Next item Risks and controls of...

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Businesses of all shapes, sizes and industries are experiencing hack attacks every single day in Australia & New Zealand. 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 – 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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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