A DARLINGTON IT expert has warned small busineses in the region to be on alert after a ransomeware attack affecting more than 300 Spar convenience stores.
Garry Brown, managing director of Bondgate IT, said the latest attack targeted the company’s IT systems, including staff emails, and meant stores were unable to accept card payments.
It also disabled the website of primary wholesaler, Lancashire-based James Hall & Company, which provides food to the nearly 600 Spar stores across the North.While more than 300 stores have been affected, some have avoided closure by accepting cash only payments.
Spar has now confirmed that it was the victim of a ransomware attack but is not identifying the criminal organisation responsible.
It said: “We apologise for the inconvenience this is causing our customers and we are working as quickly as possible to resolve the situation.”
Garry Brown said: “This is the latest in a long line of cyberattacks that have affected a host of major names, including Tesco.
“The National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) 2021 review has already found there were three times as many ransomware attacks in the first quarter of this year than the whole of 2019.
“This has now been confirmed as a ransomware attack, where hackers demand money to restore stolen data or restore IT systems and highlights the significant threat that such cyberattacks pose to businesses and organisations in terms of lost revenue and the effect on its reputation.
“It’s vital that businesses and organisations invest in cyber security as surely as they would in physical security. There is, however, a growing recognition that businesses must review their cyber risk controls and draw up a risk assessment that will form the basis of an in-depth cyber security strategy.
“No one measure is able to protect a business, which is why it’s important to create a multi-layered approach to cyber security to severely limit the success of such attacks.
“As well as creating a security package, I would urge businesses to develop an incident response plan so that it is able to quickly respond and restore continuity.”
Just last week Richard Moore, the Head of Secret Intelligence Services warned that the ‘digital attack surface’ that criminals, terrorists, and hostile state threats seek to exploit is growing exponentially
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