Update: Seems like 2017 has marked a year full of ransomware attacks around the globe. On June 2017, many countries were hit by yet another ransomware attack Petya. However, this time it is different. This time, the attackers have spread the malware to cripple the economy rather than demanding any extortion (not that we know of any during the time of writing this article.)
Unfortunately, Australia is among such countries that have been affected by the malware that uses the same malicious tool, ETERNALBLUE, which was used in the WannaCry attack.
According to Australian news media outlets, two businesses have been affected so far by the Petya ransomware. One of the companies that have been believed to be affected by the malware is the popular chocolate brand, The Cadbury Factory.
It is believed that the company was hit by the same malware. The attack ended up halting the company’s production and it remained that way until next day, Wednesday, morning.
The malware is believed to be created by Russian hackers and spread by the same group.
Ransomware is among the most destructive and dangerous cyberattacks out there that can leave many businesses and organizations completely at the mercy of the attacker.
Especially in the Australia, ransomware attacks are increasing at an alarming rate, paralyzing many industries until they pay the desired ransom.
Recently, the country has been hit by yet another ransomware, WannaCry.
WannaCry or WannaCrypto is a ransomware cyberattack that hit Australian businesses, after victimizing over 200,000 systems in 150 countries. According to media outlets like News.com.au, almost 5 businesses in Australia have been hit by the ransomware as of May 15th 2017.
It is because of the growing cases of the ransomware attack that the Cyber Security Minister, Dan Tehan, has asked small business owners to stay, “proactive about their cyber security in the wake of this ransomware campaign affecting computers around the world.”
Mr. Tehan also advised businesses, big or small, to update their systems by installing latest security patches and updates. After all, security updates provide the best way to patch the security holes that are found in older systems.
The Cyber Security Minister further urged businesses to call the Australian Cyber Security Centre or visit its website to learn more information on how to install the latest security patches.
Ransomware Cyberattacks in Australia
According to an annual roundup report of Trend Micro, over 220,000 ransomware cyberattacks hit Australian businesses and networks in just two months in 2016.
Moreover, a survey presented by CyberEdge in its Cyberthreat Defense Report shows that a staggering 33% ransomware victims in Australia pay the desired ransom to recover their sensitive data, whereas 13% don’t pay the ransom and end up losing their data.
The same survey also reports that successful cyberattacks in Australia have increased to 79% in 2017 from 62% in 2014.
Fortunately, Australia is still safe from the ransomware WannaCry as long as businesses stay cautious and take the necessary measures.
The ransomware has also hit a massive numbers of systems in other nations, targeting not only businesses but healthcare sector as well. Take for instance the NHS hospitals and trusts in the UK that had to cancel appointments and even re-schedule surgeries because of the disruption caused by the ransomware.
How to Fight Against Ransomware Attacks
Though Kaspersky has a tool that can allow a user to detect and remove the ransomware, there are other ways that can help you keep your systems safe from any future ransomware attacks.
- The latest ransomware exploits a system through a security hole in the Microsoft Windows. Therefore, the best way to protect the OS from WannaCry ransomware is by installing the latest security patch.
- Be it Windows or any other operating system, it is important to keep the system up to date to prevent any future attacks.
- You should backup your data on a regular basis so even if you are hit by a ransomware cyberattack, you can rest assured that you don’t need to pay anyone to get back your data.
- Installing firewall is yet another method of keeping not just ransomware at bay but also to prevent other malicious malware from entering your system. Hence, if you don’t have a firewall, install it immediately.
The terrorizing result of WannaCry would have been worse, had it not been slowed down by a young security expert. The individual, currently known by MalwareTech, partnered with a research engineer to develop a “kill-switch” to reduce intensity of the attack.
Regardless, we now know how damaging the result of successful ransomware can be. To minimize the damage to your business, it is important to prevent the attack by implementing some preventive measures, which include keeping your systems up to date.