The currency exchange firm, Travelex, was hit by ransomware on 31 December and has now been offline for over a week. Staff are reportedly using pen and paper to conduct transactions as the company struggles to recover from the malicious encryption of its computer systems. Press reports suggest that the ransom demand is some $6million.
This disaster holds a lesson or two for the rest of us. Firstly, any business can be the subject of a ransomware attack and it takes active effort to reduce the chance of a successful attack. Make sure you have the right level of security to keep outsiders out. This includes simple steps like secure user passwords, plus more complicated technologies around equipment like firewalls and remote access systems. It also includes software that keeps a lookout for signs of the data encryption that is typical of ransomware attacks.
But the technology is only half the battle. The second half is your employees – your ‘human firewall’. Many ransomware attacks succeed through people being fooled into opening an email attachment or downloading something they shouldn’t. Everyone needs to be alert to the email that isn’t quite right or not exactly what they are expecting. Many organisations put in place regular testing of their employees, offering training to anyone who does appear to be willing to open suspicious emails.
Riverbank IT’s Managing Director, Marc Juffkins, says “This attack on Travelex shows how the methods have evolved and the ransom is not just about getting data back; the criminals are threatening to releasing your confidential data on to the internet.
“Doing as much preventative work as you can is imperative, just having secure backups is no longer good enough. We provide our clients with a whole suite of security software that gives them multiple layers of protection. But everyone has to be on their guard. The attack on Travelex shows how real the threat is”.
One can only imagine the agonies that the staff of Travelex are going through as they try to recover their systems and ensure that they are not vulnerable to a further attack. The financial impact is unknown but must be considerable. It’s a tale of woe that will probably continue for months to come.
Find out more about how Riverbank IT can help you stay secure here.