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21st July 2017

Cyber crime attacks: Are you covered?

Cyber crime is a prevalent reality in South Africa. With many businesses recently being attacked by ransomware, it is unfortunately a security threat that can no longer be ignored or put off. Are you and your business protected and prepared? Perhaps it is time to get in touch with your insurance broker to ensure you have sufficient cover in the event of cyber crime attacks.

What is ransomware and what role does it play in cyber crime attacks?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts data, perpetually blocks access to a computer system and/or threatens to publish the victim’s data. To regain control, the victim is expected to pay cyber criminals a ransom.

For years, ransomware has typically disguised itself as an anti-virus that would then trick victims into paying for the supposed removal of viruses on computers. More recently, crypto-ransomware or cryptoware simply encrypt files and the cyber criminals then demand payment for the encryption key. Most frustrating of all is the fact that the encryption key is destroyed if the money is not paid, and in some cases it is even destroyed after payment. Lately, payment is often requested in the form of a cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin, because it makes it a lot harder to trace the cyber criminals. This makes it impossible to retrieve your data – the information that you have gained over years and years of doing business. Understandably, this kind of attack can literally cripple a business. Hopelessness sets in, especially if a business has not taken out an insurance policy that covers them when these attacks occur.

How do you prevent and prepare for cyber crime attacks?

The biggest security risk when it comes to cyber crime lies in people’s lack of knowledge about it. It’s important to educate everyone in your business on cyber crime and ways in which the business can prevent attacks:

  • Put a firewall in place
  • Put endpoint protection in place and keep signatures updated
  • Put anti-spam protection in place for emails and attachments
  • Put sandbox or containment technology in place for emails originating outside the trusted domain
  • Provide proper training to all users on information handling and technology use
  • Put honeypots in place to block network calls of the ransomware to its headquarters
  • Do not use unregistered devices on the network
  • Do not use external hardware like USBs for downloads
  • Restrict write permissions on file servers
  • Educate people to contact IT if they encounter suspicious pop-ups
  • Conduct regular offline backups and test that they can be reliably restored
  • Use web and email protection to block access to malicious websites and scan all downloads
  • Disconnect from networks immediately if suspect infection is suspected

Despite putting all of these prevention tactics into place, your business could still be attacked. This is why it is wise to contact your insurance broker to find out how you can prepare for cyber crime attacks. Contact your broker for more information now.

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