In the wake of this month’s crippling global cyber-attack, businesses are being urged to ensure that their IT security protection is up to date to prevent the risk of falling prey to hackers.
Over 200,000 organisations in 150 countries have been affected by the recent attack including the NHS, which saw many of its front line services crippled as a result of infiltration of its IT systems.
The vulnerabilities exploited by the hackers are the same for individuals, public or private sector organisations, with ransom demands being made by the perpetrators.
Although the latest cyber breaches have caused a great deal of concern, Ian Mann, the founder of cyber security firm ECSC says the cyber-attack can only be successful if firms have made two “significant mistakes”:
He lists the two fundamental errors as:
- A failure to apply a security patch from Microsoft – graded the most serious ‘critical’ update – as of 14 March 2017
- Having network firewalls configured badly to allow traffic from the Internet or third-parties that should be blocked
Other experts have provided a range of advice for protecting companies against cyber hackers, including:
- Install system updates on all devices as soon as they become available
- Install anti-virus software on all devices and keep it updated
- Create regular backups of your important/business critical files to a device that is not left connected to your network– you can’t be held to ransom if you’ve got the data somewhere else
- Do not meet any stated demands and pay a ransom – this may be requested via Bitcoins (a form of digital or ‘crypto’ currency) – as there is no guarantee that your data access will be restored
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, which was set up to protect the UK from cyber-attacks, has technical guidance [link – https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance] as well as specific software patches to prevent computers from becoming infected with the ‘WannaCry’ Ransomware.
Carey Jacobs, a partner in Palmers, said: “This latest attack demonstrates that the prevention of cybercrime is an increasingly worrying business challenge.
“Palmers has been at the forefront of raising local awareness about the risks of cybercrime and its potentially devastating impact on businesses and we have hosted a series of successful joint seminars on this important issue, which we are planning to run again later in the year.
“We also have a network of contacts who are committed to helping local businesses stay safe and reduce their risk of becoming a victim of commercial cybercrime.”
For more information on issues relating to cybercrime, how you can manage your risk and your legal options if your organisation is affected by fraudulent activity, please contact us.