Queensland Police issue warning to small businesses

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Queensland Police issue warning to small businesses

Australian businesses are being urged to check their computer security after a business held to online “ransom” paid thousands of dollars.

We’ve covered several worrying security threats lately, but this one could have been ripped from a screenwriter’s notepad.

Our sister publication SC Magazine reports that a Northern Territory business was held to ransom by hackers. The refrigeration and electrical business found it couldn’t access its credit card and debtor invoice data – hackers demanded money in exchange for a password.

Every seven days, according to the article, the ransom would go up by $1,000. We recommend you read the article here.

Queensland Police have posted a warning on their web site, stating “two small Queensland businesses” have been held to ransom for the release of their customer files. In each case, cash payment was requested.

Police say “infected websites” appear to be the source of the malware “at this stage”.

Security software company AVG told us today that they had received “five or six” phone calls about the issue late last week.

“Most of the ransomware up till now we’ve seen have been this innocuous version that blacks out your screen and asks you to pay up….but in this instance it had encrypted this file, which was new to us,” AVG Security Advisor Michael McKinnon said.

Police are urging small businesses to patch servers, put in place strong network security, do regular backups, update software, make sure each computer on network has security installed and make sure users are aware of malicious software and website links and danger of clicking on website links in emails.

A ploy used to trick victims into paying is to claim child pornography has been found on the computer, according to SC Magazine and AVG. McKinnon said that hackers have claimed to be from the AFP, New Scotland Yard as well and the FBI.

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