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The ACSC is asking Australians to remain vigilant of ransomware and the damage it can cause.

The centre is urging all Australians, including businesses owners and operators to patch their systems.

‘Ransomware continues to be one of the greatest cyber security threats to us all. And due to its non-discriminatory nature, if your network is unprotected you may fall victim,’ said head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre Alastair MacGibbon.

Ransomware can cause severe reputational damage to businesses and potentially cost thousands of dollars to fix.

‘It is important that people don’t sit and wait to patch their systems. Individuals, businesses and government agencies must take action as soon as practically possible,’ he said.

How do I prevent ransomware?

Steps to prevent ransomware from affecting your systems:

Minimise visits to unknown websites and avoid being enticed by clickbait.

  • Look for the padlock symbol and ‘https’ in the browser address bar when surfing the net.
  • Install and regularly update antivirus and anti-ransomware software.
  • Install a firewall to stop traffic from untrustworthy sources getting onto your device.
  • Keep your operating system and software up to date with the latest versions; this should be done automatically where possible.
  • Back up your computers and phones regularly, and choose automatic back-ups where possible. Keep back-ups separate from your computer, on separate devices or use a cloud service.
  • Disable macros in Microsoft Office.
  • Have an incident response plan ready to dramatically reduce the damage inflicted, ensure a quick recovery and safeguard against future incidents.
  • Adopt multiple layers of defence against malware; no single mitigation will protect you. You can develop multiple strategies that will improve your resilience and detect malware without disrupting the day-to-day running of your organisation.

How to protect yourself

As a business owner, read our recommended list of mitigation strategies, including our Essential Eight as a starting point for improving your cyber resilience.

Small businesses can contact ACORN (Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network); larger businesses are advised to follow their normal procedures.