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Company receives $30m ransom demand in cyber attack

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
11 March 2020 1 minute readShare
Cyber attack

An international company with offices in Perth has been sent a $30 million ransom demand from cyber criminals who have locked its computer system in Australia, forcing the company to stop trading.

In a similar scenario to the one experienced last month by the Toll Group, the Australian branch of Manheim Auctions fell victim to a ransomware attack on 14 February.

While Manheim earlier revealed its predicament on Facebook, confirming it had experienced an “incident” due to malware which was designed to restrict access to its IT systems, the Western Australian Consumer Protection agency released a statement on Tuesday expounding on the extent of the situation.

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Confirming that personal data of clients has not been compromised, Commissioner for Consumer Protection Penny Lipscombe warned all businesses to be on alert about these cyber attacks and have effective security measures in place.  

“Often the ransomware is downloaded by an employee who opens an attachment in a scam email or clicks on a link, giving the cyber criminals access to the computer system,” Ms Lipscombe said.

 

“The system is locked by the criminals and files encrypted, followed by a ransom demand to have the system unlocked. Of course, we recommend that companies do not pay the ransom as the criminals are likely to come back asking for more money.

“Paying will also give the criminals added incentive to continue their illegal and highly disruptive practices. Instead, seek expert IT assistance to have the computer system restored.”

Ms Lipscombe urged businesses to have their cyber security reviewed and updated so that they have the latest antivirus software and firewalls installed to be protected from malware.

She added: “Staff also need to be trained not to automatically open attachments or click on links in emails, especially if the sender is unknown. Even when senders are known, staff should be vigilant as accounts may have been hacked.

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“Money spent on cyber security is money well spent, especially when compared to the cost of having computer systems locked and, in extreme cases, businesses not being able to operate for a considerable amount of time.”

WA ScamNet has received 68 reports of ransomware or malware attacks since 1 January 2019.

Last month, delivery giant Toll Group admitted to falling victim to a “targeted ransomware attack”, which forced it to disable its systems at multiple sites and business units, causing widespread delays and disruptions.

Company receives $30m ransom demand in cyber attack
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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has a decade-long career in journalism across finance, business and politics. Now a well-versed reporter in the SME and accounting arena, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies and enabling citizens to influence decision-making.

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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