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Last week’s massive ransomware outbreak called WannaCry that affected over 150 countries and dominated the news headlines globally was just the beginning.... We expect newer, more malicious versions any day.

This event had a massive impact everywhere, including the National Health Scheme in UK, blocking all access to patient records. Imagine what it could do to your business?

Ransomware is malicious software that blocks and encrypts computers and files (including backups) until a ransom is paid to organised crime. It spreads very easily across networks.

Organised crime reaped over USD $300million from one ransomware variant in 2016 alone. No wonder they invest in newer techniques every few months to trick people into running malicious software.

The result of such an attack may be complete loss of access to the data on all of your connected computer systems and your backups.  The resulting damage to your business, customers, suppliers and employees could be catastrophic.

Paying the Ransom doesn’t work !

Paying the ransom may often seem like the only option but it is no guarantee that the ransom won’t be increased or the damage reversed or a backdoor left open for future attacks. Contrary to opinion, Telstra’s latest Cybersecurity Report showed that in 2016 less than 1/3 of people retrieved their data after paying the ransom.

Smaller Businesses are being Targeted

Wannacry was a general attack on all vulnerable users / computers around the world.  No business is immune. Small and medium sized businesses, who often think they are too small or unimportant to be targeted are increasingly seen by criminal organisations as ‘soft targets’.

In fact, smaller enterprises like yours probably don’t have the scale and resources of larger enterprises like the UK’s NHS to survive an attack. It’s even more vital you protect yourself.

Traditional Anti-Virus Software Is NOT enough

In recent months it has become clear that conventional anti-virus solutions, though reasonably adequate to date have been far out-paced by the capabilities of modern malware.

To stay protected from the latest ever sophisticated “threat landscape” requires a proactive, managed and continually evolving solution.  These attacks can only be mitigated if continually updated layers of systems and processes are maintained to keep pace.  This is called “Active Defence in Depth”.

Until recently, this was beyond the reach of businesses of your size.

Cybersecurity Protection is Now Affordable

We have launched a Free Report on how you can start protecting your business. The 10 Most Critical IT Security Protections Every Business Must Have In Place NOW.

The WannaCry attacks are a wake-up call and urgent reminder of the ever present threat that is only one click away.  Please remember that should your data be compromised the subsequent disruption to your business could be an expensive, even disastrous test of your current defences.

ACT NOW !

You wouldn't have known, but we had our own fire disaster last week!

Early last Tuesday, we received a call that a fire was blazing in our building. Naturally we rushed down there but like all the occupants, we were not allowed access to our office at all. Later, that day we found out a tenant on the floor below us had an electrical failure in their computer room which was the start of the whole disaster.

Thankfully, there were no personal injuries, and only damage to a few units (not ours). However, many businesses did suffer. The fire department rightly blocked off access due to the poisonous fumes, not to mention that the power was cut off for most of the day. Outside, hundreds of people milled around wondering what do next. Comments overhead were:

"All my files are there - I need to get to them !"

"I need to finish something urgently for a client - now what ?"

"This is costing me a fortune - my staff can't do anything productive. I can't even get remote access.."

Privately,we smiled - We never ceased normal business operations at all !

We Had No Downtime
Our Business Continuity Plan kicked in and we didn't miss a beat! In fact, I don't think most of our clients even knew this had occurred.

We lost no sales, we missed no service calls, we continued to deliver the same service, we lost no data and there was minimal impact on the organisational productivity. We dod not lose a single cent.

How is this possible?

  1. We already had a Written Continuity Plan (we could continue keep normal business operations whilst the disaster was occurring, and as it was already written down - we knew what we had to do without missing important steps in the early panic).
  2. Most of our systems are cloud-based (doesn't matter where you work from).
  3. Our cloud-based software systems are the "right type" of cloud (works on any device, secure, runs all of our apps and is optimised for slow internet connections if staff work from home).
  4. Our communications systems were cloud-based so we could still receive client calls (not perfect, but we know what to refine for next time).

Over the previous months, you’ve probably heard about new technology trends like virtual assistants, smartphones, and automation technologies. Some of these IT solutions may even be placed on top of your business priority list. However, with fires and power outages just around the corner, disaster recovery and business continuity plans should always have a place on your annual budget.

Business Continuity isn’t a huge investment
A common misconception about disaster recovery is that it’s a large, bank-breaking investment and that only large enterprises can afford it. Expensive secondary data centres, networks, and server maintenance usually come into mind when a business owner is confronted with the idea of Business Continuity or Disaster Recovery. And while that may have been true in the past, establishing a strong disaster recovery plan today is as simple -- and as cheap -- as going to a cloud-based disaster recovery provider and paying for the data and services that your business needs. Subscription pricing models are actually incredibly low, meaning you can have minimal downtime while still having enough to invest in new tech.

Onsite backups just won’t cut it
Although you might feel secure with a manual backup server down the hall, it is still susceptible to local disasters and, ultimately, does very little in minimising company downtime - especially if you can't get access to your office. When disaster recovery solutions are hosted in the right cloud  you don't have to restore critical data or applications - they are already available.

Business disasters can be man-made, too
Even if your workplace is nowhere near frequent disaster zones, cyber attacks and negligent employees can leave the same impact on your business as any natural disaster can. Setting a weak password, clicking on a suspicious link, or connecting to unsecured channels is enough to shut down a 5-, 10-, or even 50-year-old business in mere minutes.

Sure, installing adequate network security is a critical strategy against malicious actors, but last year’s barrage of data breaches suggests that having a Plan B is a must. A suitable business continuity and disaster recovery plan ensures that your data’s integrity is intact and your business can keep going, no matter the malware, worm, or denial-of-service attack.

Downtime will cost you
A business without a Business Continuity plan might come out unscathed after a brief power outage or small fire, but why risk the potential damages? Either way, downtime will cost your business. First, there’s the general loss of productivity. Every time your employees aren’t connected to the network, money goes down the drain. Then there’s the cost of corrupted company data, damaged hardware, and the inevitable customer backlash. Add all those variables together, and you end up with a business-crippling fee.

You might even have insurance, but that doesn't help if your clients go to your competition because you couldn't deliver service when they wanted.

Smaller businesses usually have "less fat" to weather such instances - it is even more important that they protect themselves,

So, if you want 2017 to be the best year for your business, make the smart choice and proactively take part in creating your company’s business continuity plan. Your business will be in a better position financially with it rather than without it..

Keep your business safe, recover from any disaster, and contact us today if you need assistance. Also, get a hold our free guide :

14 Little-Known Facts Every Business Owner Must Know About Data Backup, Security And Recovery"

“Never before in the history of humankind have people across the world been subjected to extortion on a massive scale as they are today.” That’s what The Evolution of Ransomware, a study by California-based cybersecurity firm Symantec, reported recently.

If you have any illusions that your company is safe from cyber-attack in 2017, consider just a few findings stated in a recent report by the Herjavec Group, a global information security firm:

  • Every second, 12 people online become a victim of cybercrime, totalling more than 1 million victims around the world every day.
  • Nearly half of all cyber-attacks globally last year were committed against small businesses.
  • Ransomware attacks rose more than an astonishing 300% in 2016.
  • Known corporate data breaches in 2016 include: Australian Red Cross, Telstra, Dropbox, JB HiFi, David Jones, Domino's Pizza, Snapchat, Tumblr.
  • The world’s cyber-attack surface will grow an order of magnitude larger between now and 2021.
  • In 2016, The Australian Federal Government estimated that known losses from cybercrime cost Australians more than $1 billion in 1 year.
  • There is no effective law enforcement for financial cybercrime in Australia today.

Clearly, your company’s information and financial well-being are at greater risk than ever in 2017. And you cannot count on the federal or state government or local police to protect your interests. That’s why I STRONGLY SUGGEST that you implement the following resolutions starting TODAY.

Resolution #1: Tune up your backup and recovery system. The #1 antidote to a ransomware attack is more frequent and up-to-date backup copies of all your data and software. Yet managing backups takes more than just storing a daily copy of your data. For one thing, if your business is at all typical, the amount of data you store grows by 35% or more PER YEAR. If your data management budget doesn’t expand likewise, expect trouble. What about important data stored in cloud solutions like dropbox?

Resolution #2: Harness the power of the cloud—but watch your back. Huge productivity gains and reduced costs can be achieved by making full use of the cloud. Yet it’s a double-edged sword. Any oversight in security practices can lead to a breach. Here are two things you can do to harness the cloud safely:

  • Determine which data matters. Some data sets are more crucial to your business than others. Prioritise what must be protected. Trying to protect everything can take focus and resources away from protecting data such as bank account information, customer data and information that must be handled with compliance and regulatory requirements in mind.
  • Select cloud providers carefully. Cloud vendors know that data security is vital to your business and promote that fact. Yet not all cloud vendors are the same. You can’t control what happens to your data once it’s in the cloud, but you can control who’s managing it for you.

Resolution #3: Set and enforce a strict Mobile Device Policy. As BYOD becomes the norm, mobile devices open gaping holes in your network’s defences. Don’t miss any of these three crucial steps:

  • Require that users agree with acceptable-use terms before connecting to your network. Be sure to include terms like required use of hard-to-crack passwords, conditions under which company data may be “wiped” and auto-locking after periods of inactivity.
  • Install a Mobile Device Management System on all connected devices. A good system creates a virtual wall between personal and company data. It lets you impose security measures, and it protects user privacy by limiting company access to work data only.
  • Establish a strong protocol for when a connected device is lost or stolen. Make sure features that allow device owners to locate, lock or wipe (destroy) all data on the phone are preset in advance. That way, the user can be instructed to follow your protocol when their phone is lost or stolen.

Resolution #4: Ensure you have the latest Security Technology Layers in place. The fact is that attacks are becoming more sophisticated every month. Do this at least:

  • Ensure all of your staff are regularly trained and tested on the latest threats that are designed to trick them on clicking on the wrong things. (It's just not email any more).
  • Replace traditional antivirus software with systems that monitor program behaviour.
  • Implement systems that block unusual web links (even in online advertisements).

Free Network And Security Audit Resolves Your Biggest Data Security Problems and Makes Your Systems Run Like A Fancy Swiss Watch

Ever asked yourself why some business owners and CEOs seem so blithely unconcerned about data protection? Don’t let their ignorance lull you into a false sense of security. If you’ve read this far, you are smart enough to be concerned. Contact us today at 1300-SENSIBLE (736-742) or info@sensible.com.au and we’ll send one of our top network security experts over for a FREE Network and Security Audit. It’s your best first step to a safe and prosperous 2017.

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