Australian Cyber Security Campaign
The Australian government through the Australian Signals Directorate now has upgraded reporting of cyber crime with the new Australian Cyber Security Centre with an initial focus on ransomware, where hackers gain access to a computer of server system and lock out the owners until a large ransom, usually requested to be paid with bitcoin, is paid. Only then, and only if you are lucky, is the site then unlocked so you can regain control of it.
While corporate and government websites are the usual target, anyone is vulnerable to ransomware. Every individual, small business and organisation can be a victim and held to ransom by these cyber extortionists.
There are some golden rules to follow that will help protect us from extortion by ransomware:
- Beware of imposters – don’t accept the word of anyone who phones or emails you out of the blue.
- Do not be intimidated – and don’t give in to threats of arrest or legal action if you don’t follow their directions.
- Do your homework – use a search engine to get pertinent details about the organisation or department that is claiming to be represented. Get names, positions, phone numbers. Call the department or organisation and ask for the person representing you.
- If it sounds strange, it probably is. Don’t click on any link in an email.
- Bogus websites will have a bogus url (Uniform Resource Locator) – that’s the web address. Only Australian government sites have “.org.au” in the address. Get used to reading the address bar at the top of your browser.
- Use a password manager to store and manage your passwords. Use pass phrases or passwords that do not relate to you in any way. No pet names, no birthdays, and definitely no easy to remember passwords like your name or your date of birth. You are asking to be hacked if you do.