Security Market Segment LS
Tuesday, 19 May 2015 13:15

Small business held to ransom by scammers Featured

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Scammers have wreaked havoc amongst small businesses and their computer systems, with malware attacks restricting system use until a ransom is paid to remove the restriction.

Small businesses and consumers lost almost $1 million to the ransomware and malware scams last year, with over 2,500 complaints made to the consumer watchdog, the ACCC.

Issuing a warning during the current Fraud Week, the ACCC says a total of $970,000 was reported lost over the year, with several people losing over $10,000 to the scammers.

The scammers go about their dirty work by email, with victims receiving an email purportedly from a reputable sender such as Australia Post or FedEx, with a file attached that will install ransomware on your computer once opened.

ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said the scams can have a devastating effect on a small business.

“Ransomware can also see your business losing all of its business and financial records, which may be catastrophic.”

Dr Schaper said many small businesses and consumers have reported that their computer has been frozen, with a pop-up alert that claims to be from the Australian Federal Police stating the computer has been locked because they have visited an illegal website or breached various laws.

“Scammers claim that they will unlock the computer if a fee is paid. However, even if you pay the ransom, there is no guarantee your computer will be unlocked and you’re likely to be up for expensive repairs to your computer and the loss of your invaluable data.”

“Scams like this often succeed because they look like messages from a government agency or reliable large corporation. It’s important that small businesses are aware that government agencies will not send these demands and they’re dealing with a scammer.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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