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The NHS faced its highest profile cyber attack to date last week. But what can Hampshire businesses and organisations learn from the attack?

Nigel Taylor, managing director of Fareham-based Taylor Made Computer Solutions gives his view…

“The headlines created by the NHS attack have, without doubt, opened people’s eyes to the very real risks of cyber crime. For such a huge national organisation to be hit highlights the fact that the threat is very real.

“It wasn’t just the NHS that was a target either – the WannaCry malware has infected hundreds of thousands of computers all over the world in 150 countries. Other big organisations have been hit, including FedEx and Renault.

“It affected business more than individuals because it got in through a vulnerability in Windows that most home users will have patched, or will not be at risk from anyway.”

What should I do now?

The virus that hit the NHS, along with other organisations, was a piece of ransomware, which works by freezing people’s computers and files and demanding a ransom to unlock them.

Nigel says: “For those that have been affected the advice is first of all to keep calm. The nature of the cyber attack is to render information inaccessible by encrypting or obscuring the data. Once the process has started the only focus is to identify the source and stop it spreading further.

“Secondly, once the ransomware is identified turn off the computer to prevent further spread

“Third on the list of priorities is to begin the restore process. The information that is inaccessible will need to be restored from your most recent backup. If you have an IT department, they would be the first point of contact to regain access to your information.

“Lastly, prevent any further incoming email while the attack is being investigated. This will prevent further attacks while the information is being restored.”

Nigel adds that all businesses can learn from the WannaCry malware attack and reduce the risk of it happening to them in the future. “This case really highlights the importance of training your staff to spot the warning signs,” he says. “It doesn’t matter what systems you have in place, if a member of staff clicks on the wrong link it can be devastating. Hold regular training so your entire team is alert.

“Furthermore, make sure you have a robust backup system in place so you can recover your files and get back to business quickly.  Finally, ensure you know what’s going on in your IT department. It can be very easy as an MD or CEO to leave it to the IT manager but it’s important that the IT strategy is understood by the board.”

Taylor Made’s tips for avoiding being hit by a ransomware virus

  • Ensure all of your systems are up to date – updates are there to protect you from the latest innovations in hacking.
  • Hold regular training with all staff to teach them how to spot dodgy emails
  • If you have the slightest doubt about the authenticity of an email don’t click the link
  • ALWAYS hover over links to see where they lead to – if it’s a strange or unrelated website it’s likely to be a virus
  • Be wary of clicking links in emails from mobile phones and tablets – these devices don’t give you the option to hover over and see where the link leads
  • Poor grammar is often a tell-tale sign of a scam email
  • Forget the myth that Apple devices are immune from viruses

Never pay the ransom if you are hit – it only encourages hackers to target you, and others, again and there’s no guarantee you’ll get your files back

If you are concerned that your business has been a victim to a ransomware attack or would like further information or assistance on ransomware, please contact one of our team today on 01329 226900 or email info@tmcs.co.uk.

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