Firms who rely heavily on computerised records for running and maintaining their business are being warned of a new global cyber threat that has already hit one million systems.
Recent incidents in Moray resulted in ‘ransom’ attacks on business computer systems that resulted in local firms effectively being held hostage, with their vital data being locked up until they paid to receive an ‘unlock key’.
The attacks are the result of a computer virus typically delivered when an attachment to an incoming email is opened or an infected website has been visited. Unwary staff at several Moray offices have already become victims of the scam – now a leading north east IT firm is warning that an even greater threat is on its way.
Indigo Technologies say that they have already saved three north east companies from damage through the ‘ransomware’ virus – with one company having lost £15,000 in just 15 minutes.
Director Sean Thomson is now warning that a new stream of the virus could have a catastrophic effect. He said: “If your business relies heavily on IT services it is vital that systems run smoothly without downtime and protected from threats such as ransomware.
“In the latest attack people are being tricked into opening an e-mail from the HMRC, and their computer keystrokes are being monitored.
“Paying a ransom does not necessarily solve the problem and companies who have paid have found that the decryption can take days – and there is absolutely no guarantee that the ransomware will not lie dormant on the recovered system.
“There is no magic cure after a system is corrupted – companies need to protect themselves from this threat.”
One method of protection available is the use of ‘visualisation software’ which can automatically back up and restore company systems. All traditional hardware and software would be removed from company premises to a secure ‘Cloud’ data centre with staff accessing it remotely.