News & Events

New Dangerous Variant of CryptoLocker Reaches Waikato. Do not click on unknown resumes!

In my nearly 30 years of advising clients on IT security I have never come across a more aggressive and successful piece of malware as CryptoLocker. ‘Successful’ from the angle of the perpetrator, not from the perspective of the network owner, regrettably. Since the beginning of this year, HTG has been aware of wave after wave of CryptoLocker attempts on Waikato businesses. Unfortunately, sufficient of these attacks were effective to cause a lot of disruption and consequential monetary loss to the victims.

To some degree networks can be protected against CryptoLocker through technology. Clients who are subscribers to HTG Fortress, for instance, benefit from a higher level of protection than is obtainable from normal defences. However, there is nothing that can prevent successful infection through users momentarily or unknowingly letting their guard down and opening unsolicited email attachments or clicking on links to infected websites.

I believe that there wouldn’t be many users out there who are not aware that clicking on unsolicited email attachments or suspicious links is risky. However, the perpetrators are getting smarter and smarter and each new generation of Ransomware is dressing up to look more and more like legitimate correspondence.

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Is your business still running the type of home grade firewalls that ISPs give out for free?

What prompted me to write this article is a recent story published by the BBC of how the Bangladesh Central Bank lost over $100 million to hackers. It turned out that the bank’s system was protected only by a cheap internet router with no proper firewalling services built in – the type that many businesses still run in NZ.

I have long and consistently urged my clients to be careful about cyber security. This is because where I sit I come to hear of a lot of risk-taking and actual losses incurred by businesses through cybercrimes. Consider the following statistics:

  • Over 856,000 New Zealanders were affected by cybercrime each year, costing at least $257m in 2015
  • An average of 25 attacks per day happened last year, causing $13m in damage – up 68 per cent
  • For one email platform, nearly 70 per cent of all email was identified as spam or malware. And this is not uncommon. Most businesses don’t realise this because their email host filters out 99.99% of this offal.
  • A US study has found 60 per cent of small businesses went out of business within six months of a data breach.

The majority of the issues arise from momentary lapses of attention. It can be very hard to beat the cybercrime perpetrators because they are often very brilliant at what they come out with. For example, ransomware writers are sending out more and more innocent looking messages that even the most seasoned cyber-detectives are having difficulty differentiating from legitimate emails.

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