Businesses ‘sitting ducks’ for cyber attacks in uncertain times | #malware | #ransomware | #hacking

IRISH businesses are being warned that they are “sitting ducks” for costly cyber attacks during the pandemic — as online criminals target them in this uncertain time.

Experts say the number of cyber attacks worldwide is now at disturbing levels, and increasing all the time, as many businesses have been forced to operate remotely.

Shocking statistics show how global ransomware attacks have increased by 62 per cent, while many never-before-seen malware variants are up by 74 per cent.

Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts a victim’s files.

The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment.

Users are shown instructions for how to pay a fee to get the decryption key.

A recent study of Irish firms found that 41 per cent had experienced at least one cyber attack event over a six month period.

The report revealed that 6.5 per cent of Irish firms paid a ransom following a ransomware attack.


The total cost of cyber incidents and breaches among the 335 Irish companies in the Hiscox Insurance study group was over €113 million.

One Irish company suffered total cyber losses of €17.8m, with the largest single event costing approximately €4.5m.

Those working in cyber security in Ireland admit the figures are “startling” — but say this is the new reality we live in.

Kevin O’Loughlin, CEO of managed IT services provider Nostra, said that as the pandemic continues and as more and more of us work from home we are under increasing threat to cyberattack.

He said Nostra is busier than ever to help build protections and first line defences for businesses.

“Cyberthreat is not high on everyone’s agenda, but it’s high on ours,” Mr O’Loughlin said.

“Our customers are predominantly business owners who are focused on ensuring their day-to-day operations perform as they should. IT networks, systems and cybersecurity are generally not something they have time to consider and that is where we step in.”


He added: “With more and more employees working from home the risk increases.

“Without adequate firewalls and defences, businesses are sitting ducks for malicious cyberattacks.

“At best, an attack could result in downtime, but more and more organisations are reporting much more significant and damaging outcomes such as data loss, crypto jacking and ransomware.”

The stats speak for themselves, and show an alarming increase in threats to businesses.

The 2021 SonicWall Global Cyber Threat Report which was published recently showed that global ransomware was increasing at alarming rate.

Tristan Bateup, country manager at  SonicWall, said: “2020, a year in which very little went as expected, highlighted the danger of approaching cyber-resiliency as merely a best practice.


“It is vital that organisations expand their thinking from just, ‘How are we going to prevent an attack?’ to also include, ‘What will we do when (not if) we get attacked?'”

Meanwhile, Mr O’Loughlin warned that no business is immune to cybercrime.

He added: “Cybercriminals are becoming more and more sophisticated, and their methods evolve all the time in line with technology, which is moving at an unprecedented rate.

“Threats that were once thought to be two or three years away are now a reality and can deliver devastating blows. 

“We are constantly on the lookout for the best new, innovative and best performing IT solutions.”

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