Archive: April 2019

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Scammers are becoming more tech-savvy according to the ACCC’s Targeting Scams report
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REPORT FINDS MORE THAN HALF OF RANSOMWARE VICTIMS WOULD PAY THE RANSOM

Scammers are becoming more tech-savvy according to the ACCC’s Targeting Scams report

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Gill

Australian businesses and consumers were duped into paying scammers with nearly half a billion dollars in 2018 according to the ACCC’s Targeting Scams: Report of the ACCC on scam activity 2018 (Report). The Report also highlights the use of sophisticated technology by scammers.

According to the Report, the most financially harmful scam affecting Australian businesses was the ‘business email compromise’ (BEC) scam. This involved a scammer gaining access to a business’s entire email or IT system. The scammer would then impersonate the business and send emails to suppliers and customers of the business, advising changes to payment details.

The losses from BEC scams exceeded $60 million in 2018, which is a 170 per cent increase from 2017. The global loss from BEC scams between 2013 and 2018 is estimated at US$12.5 billion. Other scams affecting businesses included investment scams and phishing.

A key, and worrying, trend identified in the Report was the increasing use of sophisticated technology by scammers. For instance, victims were tricked into investing in various cryptocurrencies through scammers’ fraudulent software platforms. The reported losses from cryptocurrency investments totalled $6.1 million in 2018, which is a 190 per cent increase from 2017.

Scammers also demanded payments from victims through unusual methods to avoid detection by money laundering systems. Such methods included payments in cryptocurrencies, Google Play cards and iTunes cards. The gift card numbers were then sold on the black market and turned into money.

This provides yet another reminder that your employees are your first line of defence to cyber-attacks and education and consistent reinforcing of warnings is now a critical part of any cyber security plan. Many of our clients are also adopting far tighter verification procedures before implementing any change to vendor payments details.

REPORT FINDS MORE THAN HALF OF RANSOMWARE VICTIMS WOULD PAY THE RANSOM

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham and Rebecca Gill

Telstra’s 2019 Security Report has found that majority of the respondents who have been victims of ransomware attacks have paid the attackers to unlock files. Many of these respondents successfully retrieved their data after paying the ransom.

Of the 320 Australian respondents, 51 per cent said that they had paid ransomware attackers to regain access to encrypted files. Further, the Report found that 77 per cent of Australian businesses that had paid a ransom were able to retrieve their data after making the payment. Whilst this was the lowest rate of data retrieval post-payment out of the 13 countries in the survey, 79 per cent of the Australian respondents still said that they would pay the ransom again if they had no back-up files available.

The Report also found that the number of ransomware attacks on Australian businesses was relatively higher than other developed countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and France. Thirty two per cent of the Australian respondents indicated that their business had been interrupted ‘on a weekly or monthly basis’ from ransomware attacks.

It explains why ransomware is such a lucrative business for hackers, though we’d recommend having clear and tested backup and recovery processes, and strong cybersecurity measures, as your best fall-back in the event of a ransomware attack – and to save your cryptocurrency for the next market rise!

A copy of the full Report can be accessed here.

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